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Thursday, July 7, 2022

SA chief suspended in Semenya row


Caster SemenyaSouth Africa’s Olympic governing body has suspended Athletics South Africa’s president, while the ASA has apologised to Caster Semenya over her gender row.

Semenya, 18, was embroiled in controversy after her 800m victory at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.

ASA chief Leonard Chuene admitted in September he lied about whether Semenya had been gender tested before Berlin.

The ASA board and its members have also been suspended pending a disciplinary investigation into the matter.

A statement said: “Athletics South Africa wishes to publicly and unconditionally apologise to Caster Semenya and her family, the President of

South Africa as well as to all South Africans for the handling of her gender verification processes and the subsequent aftermath.”

Semenya burst on to the world stage when she ran one minute, 56.72 seconds for the 800m in July, smashing her previous personal best by more than seven seconds.

She also broke Zola Budd’s long-standing South African 800m record before arriving in Berlin as the newly-crowned African junior champion.

The teenager then left her rivals trailing in Berlin to win by 2.5 seconds from 2007 champion Janeth Jepkosgei in a time of 1.55.45, the fastest time of the year.

On the same day, it emerged that gender tests had been carried out on Semenya earlier in August – Chuene at first denied knowledge of those tests before admitting he lied to protect Semenya.

However, former South Africa coach Wilfred Daniels told BBC Sport that the ASA kept a lot from Semenya.

He said: “She was told it was random doping tests she was being taken to in South Africa and Berlin, in the meantime it was gender verification tests.

“She was never briefed properly about her rights and the implications about the outcome of the tests.

“She was never given the opportunity to make a decision to compete or allow medical interventions that could regularise her situation.

“So those issues remained in the public domain for a very long time and brought so much trauma that I don’t think she will ever be able to be a normal woman ever again, to compete on the top tracks of the world and be accepted as a bona fide woman competitor.”

Meanwhile, the ASA has also acknowledged the criticism it received from South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, which set up a task force to look into the ASA’s handling of the affair.

The ASA statement added: “Athletics South Africa has taken note of the African National Congress Caster Semenya Support Task Team media statement issued on 16 October relating to Caster Semenya and the gender verification tests conducted on her.

“ASA appreciates the ANC’s position on this matter, fully welcomes and accepts without any reservations the findings and recommendations of the task team.”

South Africa’s Olympic governing body, SASCOC, says it is considering “taking appropriate action against the IAAF for its disregard of Semenya’s rights to privacy”.


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