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16 Sep 2009 12:13
South Africa’s world 800m champion Caster Semenya is “completely shattered” by Australian media claims that she is a hermaphrodite, reports said on Wednesday.
“She is completely shattered by all that has been said about her,” Semenya’s spokesperson Phiwe Mlangeni-Tsholetsane of Athletics South Africa (ASA) told the telegraph.co.uk.
“Caster does not shy away from what is being said about her, but she finds the negative and intrusive parts very upsetting.”
She said the claims that Semenya had internal testicles and no ovaries, as was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald last week, have left her in a “fragile” state of mind.
“The claims about her body over the past week have had a very damaging effect. She is only just an adult—she’s very young to have to cope with something like this.
“Reports last week of the so-called ‘leaked test results’ were very hard for her, but she wants to know what the world is saying, so she read and watched it all,” said Mlangeni-Tsholetsane.
Semenya could do with some positive media coverage, she added.
“Caster is a strong woman, but even she has her limits.
It would do her so much good to read some positive pieces.”
Talk Radio 702 said on Wednesday Semenya had spoken to one of its reporters, but that she refused to be recorded because of the comments she received about her deep voice.
She told the radio station that she just wanted to focus on her training.
The IAAF, world athletics’ governing body, insisted that gender tests be conducted on Semenya after she won the 800m world championships in Berlin last month.
Since then, accusations have been flying around that ASA should have pre-empted that she would be tested; and more recently, there have been claims that ASA did test her.
Beeld reported that Semenya was subjected to humiliating tests in South Africa even before the gender row erupted.
“The tests took almost two hours and Semenya became frustrated and even angry over the humiliating nature of the tests,” Beeld quoted ASA’s former head coach, Wilfred Daniels, as saying of the tests carried out in South Africa.
Beeld said Semenya was “bitterly upset” when photographs of her private parts were taken during the examinations.
“Her feet were in stirrups when the photographs were taken,” reportedly Daniels said.
ASA officials were not immediately available for comment on the report.
Semenya was led to believe she would undergo drug tests in South Africa, Beeld said.
The team’s doctor, Harold Adams, who has been uncontactable since the Berlin race, apparently recommended to ASA that Semenya not participate in Berlin.
Daniels has resigned amid the controversy, saying ASA duped Semenya into going for gender tests.
But ASA is standing behind its boss, Leonard Chuene, who is also on the board of the IAAF.
“After I challenged them [IAAF] to give me proof that they had informed us about the tests, they argued that they had told Dr Adams. But I told them he was not a member of ASA. I have now asked for a thorough report detailing everything so that we can probe it,” Chuene reportedly said recently.
But ASA’s website clearly states that Adams is South Africa’s team doctor, according to the Star.
Retired American track and field star Carl Lewis blamed ASA officials for Semenya’s predicament, saying they had failed to protect her and deal with the issue.
“To put it out in front of the world like that, I am very disappointed in them because I feel that it is unfair to her,” he said during a visit to Tel Aviv this week. “Now, for the rest of her life she’ll be marked as ‘the one’.”—Sapa, Reuters
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