Zimbabwe will not defend the 4x400m relay gold medal at this year's African Track and Field Championships in Mauritius after failing to set up a team, The Herald reported on Thursday.
With key member of the relay team Lloyd Zvasiya unavailable, Zimbabwe were left with no option but to pull out, the state-run newspaper said.
It was the most humiliating way to surrender such a title, another sign of how the administration of athletics has decayed in the country, said the newspaper.
The biennial continental event brings together some of the best African talents from all over the world.
Lewis Banda, who was part of the victorious 4x400m relay team in Congo-Brazzaville two years ago, confirmed Wednesday night that they would not be defending the title.
He said Young Talkmore Nyongani was doubling up as manager of the team while 200m sprinter Brian Dzingai is the coach of the four-member team which has Themba Ncube of Hwange as the only local-based athlete.
Tendai Tagara, who has been coach of national teams at most big events, was said to have returned home after just a day in Mauritius following the death of his wife.
"Brian is now the coach and Talkmore the manager. We are ready for our individual races. Sadly, we will not run the 4x400m relay, " said Banda.
Nyongani also confirmed that they would not defend their title but referred all questions to National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe president Joseph Mungwari who is in the country.
Mungwari said he was not in the picture about what was happening in the sport as he had been away for sometime.
Meanwhile, Banda and Nyongani qualified for the semi-finals of the 400m sprint at the regional championships on the opening day.
Banda won his heat with a time of 46.19 seconds while Nyongani was first in his heat with a time of 46.42 seconds and the two proceeded to Thursday's semi-finals while the final is set for tomorrow.
Dzingai, Ncube and Banda will run the 200m sprint whose finals are on Saturday.