ANC wants Semenya test results nullified

The African National Congress (ANC) wants the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) to declare null and void the results of athlete Caster Semenya’s gender verification tests, it said on Friday.

The tests, done in South Africa and Berlin, were not conducted in keeping with IAAF’s gender verification policies and rules, spokesperson Jackson Mthembu told a media briefing in Johannesburg.

An ANC task team, established earlier this month to support the gold medallist, met with various people involved in the saga.

“We then decided to request a meeting with the IAAF, in which we plan to advise them to declare the test results null and void,” said Mthembu.

He said the IAAF’s policy required that an athlete or team should raise a challenge or complaint for the tests to be conducted.

“Our investigation revealed that this did not happen. Also, with the test done here [South Africa], the composition of the panel that can examine an athlete was not according to the IAAF regulations,” said Mthembu.

The IAAF requires that a medical evaluation should be conducted by a panel comprising gyneacologist, endocrinologist, psychologist, internal medical specialist as well as an expert on gender and transgender issues.

“This should also be happening in the strictest confidence, but obviously, this has not happened with the Berlin tests. It is only when the athlete agrees that it can be made public.
Semenya’s rights have been infringed,” said Mthembu, adding that had Semenya been from a developed country, her testing would not have been handled this way.

The whole issue smacked of politicking, he said.

“I don’t think this was just a mistake by the IAAF. The country is being undermined. Had we been a developed country, we would not be here today,” said Mthembu.

The task team recently met with Athletics South Africa (ASA), and the meeting “did not change our stance on the manner the body handled the issue”.

ANC general-secretary Gwede Mantashe told a press briefing last month that the way ASA managed the gender controversy surrounding Semenya was “disgusting”.

“We need to be upright in censuring the officials who handled the matter.

The ANC’s national executive committee looked into the issue and felt it was disgusting the way it was managed ... ASA didn’t handle the matter with the utmost transparency and honesty,” said Mantashe.

Mthembu said on Friday that the party wished ASA had done better but could not sanction them. The South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee was dealing with the matter, Mthembu said.

However, he said the IAAF must apologise for its poor handling of the issue.

He said: “We will advice them to publicly and unconditionally apologise to Caster, her family and the enter country for violating her rights.

“Gender testing has been done several times before but results were never leaked to the media. We are not even aware of some of the tests they did but with Caster, the so-called results were published by the international and local media because of leaks. We are aggrieved.”

ANC NEC member Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who is also part of the task team, urged everyone to remember that Semenya was a human being, who is emotionally disturbed. “We should all respect and protect this child who has gone through this terrible ordeal,” said Madikizela-Mandela.

The team announced that it was preparing to launch a celebratory programme for athletes Semenya, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, the men’s 800m gold medallist, and silver medallist in men’s long jump, Kgotso Mokoena.

“We never got to celebrate their victory because of the poor handling of Caster’s gender testing,” Mthembu said.

The IAAF ordered gender tests on 18-year-old Semenya after she won the 800m World Athletics Championships in Berlin, Germany in August.

The body had refused to comment on reports that the tests showed she was a hermaphrodite.—Sapa

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