SA’s top track sprinter, Morne Blignaut, is currently serving a three month ban, but, fortunately for him, it’s not from cycling!

On top of his dramatic and aggressive confrontation with officials and team personnel at the Tri-Nations meeting in Bellville last month, Blignaut is now banned from all Virgin Active gyms in South Africa after an internal hearing at Virgin Active decided that “his conduct towards our staff and members was not what we expect at our gyms,” commented Jason Collie, the company’s regional area manager for the Western Cape.

The incident which resulted in the hearing took place at Virgin Active’s gym in Brackenfell some time prior to the Tri-Nations, and Blignaut has been banned from February 13 to May 13.

Collie confirmed Blignaut’s three month ban from all Virgin Active gyms, but would not go into too many details, other than emphasising, “this was an internal matter, which we feel has been handled appropriately, and Blignaut is welcome to re-apply for membership when his ban expires.”

When asked Morne why he had been banned from the Virgin Actives he explained that “as far as I know, it’s because I was throwing weights away rather than using a “spotter” as they wanted to me do.”

Virgin Active’s Collie responded, “if it was simply a matter of dropping a few weights, we’d have to ban half our members!”, but refused to be drawn further.

Blignaut explained that he had been “taught by former world champion, Jens Fiedler, how to throw weights away safely without using a spotter”, and pointed out, quite reasonably,  that “a spotter isn’t much use when you are not able to rise from a squat with up to 200kgs.”

“The staff didn’t like the fact that I was throwing weights away, and I had done this two or three times, and then we had a big argument, but there was no shouting and no pushing,” added Blignaut.

Collie would not comment on the allegations of pushing and shoving, merely re-iterating that “it was an internal matter, but we wouldn’t ban someone for simply dropping weights – the whole matter revolves around his conduct at Virgin Active, and we are satisfied that he was given more than sufficient warning before it all had to go to a hearing.”

“We are obviously not in the business of trying to push members away, so you must draw your own conclusions,” he went on.

Blignaut’s performances have risen to new levels under the guidance of the world renowned Fiedler, but it seems he still needs a little coaching on how to stay out of trouble personally.

He faces the CSA disciplinary hearing on Wednesday, April 6, which will decide on the action to be taken after the incident at the Bellville Velodrome and Blignaut’s fans will be crossing fingers that he doesn’t run into any more problems at that hearing, too.