South African swimmers, including Olympic gold medallist Chad le Clos, will have to pay their own way to compete in the FINA World Championships in Barcelona later this year as their cash-strapped federation cannot fund their trip.
Swimming South Africa CEO Shaun Adriaanse confirmed that the federation would be sending the swimmers to Spain but they would have to pay for their own flights and accommodation for the championship starting on July 19.
The swimming federation lost their major sponsor last year as South African telecommunications company Telkom pulled the plug on their US$ 1.25 million per year deal.
Adriaanse said the organisation has canvassed extensively for a new backer, but that there have been no takers.
Bert le Clos, who manages his son Chad, called the situation "pathetic".
"It's pathetic that you have to (buy) your own flight tickets," he told South Africa's Sunday Times newspaper. "It's a disgrace when you consider the amount of medals and glory swimmers bring to this country. There are other teams, which I don't want to point out, that get millions but bring back nothing."
South Africa's sports minister Fikile Mbalula said he was unaware of the plight of the federation, though it has emerged he tried to intervene on their behalf when Telkom withdrew their sponsorship.
South Africa won three medals in the pool at the 2012 London Olympic Games - Le Clos collecting gold (200m) and silver (100m) in the butterfly and Cameron van der Berg gold in the 100-metre breaststroke.