PETALING JAYA: A national record holder has finally received good news from the National Sports Council (NSC), after more than a year of forking out his own money for training despite much fanfare in 2019 when he was presented with a mock cheque.
NSC informed Russel Nasir Taib, who broke the 200m record at the Queensland Track Classic in Brisbane last year, that he had been recruited for the 2020 Podium Programme, for which he will be paid RM2,000 in monthly allowance until year-end.
NSC’s athletes division director Jefri Ngadirin said Russel was added to the programme in April although he had not signed a contract.
This follows FMT’s report that he had only received RM1,000 from the RM21,000 promised to him, as part of the development programme of the International Association of Athletics Federations.
Russel said he had not received a single sen since he started training for Malaysia five years ago, first in Tasmania and now in Brisbane.
He also said he had spent more than RM100,000 a year for training since 2015.
Jefri said Russel had rejected the first offer for a place in the Podium Programme in June last year, three months after clocking 20.77s to erase Khairul Hafiz Jantan’s national record of 20.90s set at the 2017 Malaysian Open.
The contract which was designed for local athletes was not suitable as Russel was in Australia, he said.
He said Russel was offered the programme for this year to strengthen the 4×100 quartet and for him to compete in the 200m.
Russel, 22, was overjoyed to hear that he was in the Podium Programme, as well as to be informed that allowances owed to him and incentives for winning silver and bronze at the 2019 Philippines SEA Games had been paid.
Russel’s management team, Team Taib, blamed the confusion on poor communication with a certain NSC officer, adding that Russel, who is based in Australia, did not have an online banking facility for his Malaysian bank account.
Speaking to FMT from London, Team Taib adviser Russell Thompson said he hoped the RM20,000 in training expenses owed to Russel by the Malaysia Athletics Federation (MAF) would also be resolved soon.
The money was part of the annual IAAF Olympics Athletics Dividend grant of US$25,000 allocated to MAF for various activities including athlete development.
The non-payment of the money, which was in MAF’s account, triggered a spat between its president SM Muthu and his predecessor Karim Ibrahim.
MAF deputy president Mumtaz Jaafar has given her assurance to NSC that the matter will be resolved soon.
Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.