South Africa make Semenya apology
Thursday 05 November 2009
Caster Semenya has received an unconditional apology from Athletics South Africa for their role in the row over the athlete's gender.
And Athletics South Africa (ASA) president Leonard Chuene, the board of ASA and its members have been suspended by South Africa's Olympic governing body pending a disciplinary investigation into the affair.
The 18-year-old won gold in the women's 800 metres at this summer's World Championships, but her triumph was overshadowed by frenzied speculation over her gender.
It emerged during the championships in Berlin that the IAAF, athletics' world governing body, had commissioned a gender test on the teenager.
South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress, has since set up a task force, which criticised ASA's handling of the affair.
A press release from ASA read: "Athletics South Africa (ASA) 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.
"Consequently, 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."
South Africa's Olympic governing body, SASCOC, released an official statement confirming they were considering "taking appropriate action against the IAAF for its disregard of Semenya's rights to privacy".
The IAAF revealed on August 19, ahead of the 800m final in Berlin, that they had been investigating Semenya's gender after her breakthrough performance when winning the African junior championship title at the end of July.
The South African ran a stunning world-leading time for the year of one minute 56.72 seconds, striking almost four seconds from her previous best.
SASCOC also recommended a decision be taken to appoint SASCOC board member Mr Ray Mali as the administrator of ASA.
Chuene had insisted in September he would not leave his post after admitting he knew Semenya had undergone a gender test prior to the World Championships.
Chuene had initially denied knowing Semenya was tested before competing in Berlin, but then revealed he was aware but had kept the information private to protect Semenya's privacy.
ASA, meanwhile, claimed they would be looking to meet with Semenya to discuss the affair.
Their statement continued: "ASA's board will lead a delegation to meet with Caster, her family and government for discussions on the matter. Athletics South Africa hopes that this will bring closure to a very unpleasant episode for Caster.
"In addition, ASA are fully prepared to co-operate with any legitimate body that seeks to get closure on this sensitive matter. Further to this, ASA is willing to make presentations to the Minister of Sport and Recreation to explain the actions taken by ASA officials prior, during and after the competition in Berlin if requested.
"ASA will also discuss with the Ministry ways in which the administration of sport can be improved. Our proposals also focus on improved management of relationships with key stakeholders, including international sporting federations such as the International Association of Athletics Federations."
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