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22 Sep 2009 07:17
South African athletics officials will meet this week to discuss the future of their president, who faces calls to go after he admitted to lying about his role in the gender-test case of runner Caster Semenya.
Attlee Maponyane, vice-president of Athletics South Africa, said a meeting of the group’s council would be held on Thursday. The council includes ASA president Leonard Chuene and leaders of sport-specific committees and provincial bodies.
Politicians are calling for Chuene’s dismissal, but Maponyane and other ASA officials contacted on Monday refused to say what recommendations the council might make to the board.
Chuene, whose four-year term ends in 2012, also refused to comment on Monday when contacted by the Associated Press.
Chuene had repeatedly said gender tests on 800m world champion Semenya were done abroad, not in South Africa.
Over the weekend, he admitted he knew of tests conducted in South Africa, saying he had lied to protect Semenya’s privacy, but refused to resign.
An international athletics ruling is pending on whether Semenya can continue competing as a woman.
The International Association of Athletics Federations has been criticised in South Africa and abroad for publicly acknowledging tests, which under IAAF rules are supposed to be confidential, putting the 18-year-old Semenya at the centre of an international media storm in which intimate details of her anatomy made headlines.
Semenya won the 800m at the world championships in Berlin on August 19 in 1:55,45—2,45 seconds ahead of her closest competitor. It was the fastest time in the world this year.
The IAAF announced hours before the final that gender tests had been ordered because of questions about Semenya’s muscular physique
and recent stunning improvement in times.
Maponyane said on Monday that whatever action his organisation takes regarding Chuene, questions remained for the IAAF to answer about why a confidential matter went public.
The sports ministry has called on the ASA to fire Chuene, as did several opposition parties. The African National Congress said in a weekend statement that it was “appalled by the manner in which both the IAAF and the ASA have handled the issue”.
In an editorial Monday, the Times said: “Chuene must go—unless South Africa is prepared to condone his appalling behavior.”
The paper accused Chuene of putting a medal hunt ahead of “any concern he might have had for Semenya’s exposure to the glare of international publicity”.
The Sowetan said in an editorial on Monday: “Chuene has admitted he lied to the nation about Caster Semenya’s gender testing.”
“While that is bad enough, he sent all of us on a jingoistic drive in which he got South Africans to see the onslaught against Caster as an attack against South Africa, black people and women,” the paper wrote.
In a separate article, the paper quoted an unnamed ASA board member as saying the board would support Chuene despite his admissions.
If ASA does stand by Chuene, it could find itself overruled by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, which is conducting its own investigation into the Semenya case.
While the national Olympics body was likely to wait to see what steps ASA takes before intervening, the organisation’s president, Gideon Sam, said in a weekend statement that “we have to ensure the integrity of those who administer member federations within Sascoc has not been undermined; alternatively that the sport has not been
done a disservice through the actions of its leadership.” - Sapa-AP
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