Ballarat runners to race tribunal after stoush at Stawell
BY TIM O'CONNOR
26 Apr, 2011
VETERAN Ballarat athlete Robert Lehmann is at the centre of a Victorian Athletic League investigation after an incident on the opening day of the Stawell Gift carnival.
Lehmann and Mulgrave runner Corey Williams have been recommended for 12-month suspended sentences and $500 fines by the VAL chief steward following an alleged altercation on Saturday.
The Courier understands the pair became involved in an argument following the eighth heat of the Stawell Gift, 120m, in which Lehmann and Williams placed fourth and fifth respectively behind 2009 champion Aaron Stubbs.
It is then believed the verbal stoush escalated into a physical encounter in front of the Hank Neil grandstand at Central Park.
Lehmann, a VAL board member, expected to clear his name at an impending tribunal hearing.
“I am confident once the tribunal is presented with the full evidence, given my outstanding record in the sport and that Mr Williams has previously served a suspension for making unsubstantiated claims against me, that the sanctions recommended will be reduced or waived,” Lehmann said.
The 39-year-old has had an outstanding 2010-11 season on the VAL circuit, winning the Keilor and St Bernards gifts and Maryborough veterans’ 120m, as well as placing second in Ararat and Daylesford features.
“I am angry and embarrassed. I’ve had 23 years in the sport and have never been charged or fronted a tribunal,” Lehmann said.
“I have possibly had the best season of my career and for it to be wrapped up in this way with an embarrassing incident off the track, it’s hurtful to me and my family.”
VAL chief executive officer Mark Howard said the tribunal hearing was likely to be conducted after this weekend’s Ballarat Gift meeting.
“It works the same as the football, where an umpire will report a player and then it goes to a tribunal, and the tribunal makes a decision,” Howard said.
“We have witness statements, but the tribunal will decide on the matter.”