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23 Oct 2009 08:43
In a bombshell report the doctor of the South African athletics team, Harold Adams, has accused Athletics South Africa (ASA) boss Leonard Chuene of deliberately politicising and sowing confusion in the Caster Semenya gender test saga.
Adams’s confidential report, leaked to the Mail & Guardian, suggests that Chuene consulted top-level politicians before deciding, against Adams’s advice, to field Semenya in the World Athletics Championship in Berlin in August.
The M&G understands that one of these politicians was the controversial ANC head of Parliament’s sports committee, Butana Komphela.
In the report Adams asks: ‘Did Chuene consult with the ‘high-powered politicians’ to merely get an endorsement and political backing for his pre-conceived plan of getting a medal at all costs?”
He says Chuene told a medical team of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that ‘withdrawing Semenya was not acceptable to top-level South African politicians who are also in government and that if the IAAF insisted on Semenya’s withdrawal they would face the wrath of the South African government, because it would not hesitate to take the IAAF to the highest court in the land”.
Adams accuses Chuene of ‘an orgy of lies” and ‘selfish interest to cover his back at the expense of Semenya’s welfare”. He describes his decision to let Semenya race in Berlin as ‘reckless, short-sighted and grossly irresponsible”.
Chuene did not reply to the M&G‘s questions this week and Komphela was unavailable.
In Parliament this week Chuene blamed the IAAF and the media for Semenya’s woes, saying he had only acted to protect the athlete.
Adams’s report indicates that Chuene lied to Parliament by saying that the IAAF had suggested Semenya should fake an injury and withdraw from the race, which he considered ‘unethical”.
The report was sent to the ANC and South Africa’s Olympic governing body, Sascoc.
It has come to light in the week that IAAF president Lamine Diack was due to have visited South Africa to discuss Semenya’s gender test with her and the government.
But Diack announced on Thursday that he had cancelled the trip.
Komphela has declared Diack unwelcome in the country.
Said a senior athletics official: ‘The report should raise questions about why Komphela has kept quiet all this time.
The report reveals that when Adams recommended that Semenya be withdrawn from the championships, Chuene initially agreed.
Adam says: ‘The reason for my advice was that the tests might prove too traumatic for Semenya to handle, especially without the necessary support of family and friends around her.
‘The other reason was that being tested at the World Championships would not give her enough time to consult extensively and perhaps arrive at a decision to refuse the testing, if she felt it would infringe on her privacy and personal rights.”
Adams alleges that Chuene changed his mind the next day after consulting ASA deputy president Kakata Maponyane and politicians back home.
The report reads: ‘The following day Chuene informed me that he had changed his mind about Semenya’s withdrawal. He said if we withdrew Semenya, what explanation would we give the politicians back home?
‘Chuene then requested me to set up a meeting with the IAAF’s medical team. I asked him why he did not discuss the matter with the president of the IAAF and agree with him on how to take the process forward, because this was such a delicate matter.
‘Chuene said talking to the president of the IAAF would be his last option. He first wanted to politicise the whole thing and to cause confusion within the IAAF medical team.”
Chuene has defended his decision to field the 800m champion in Berlin by saying that ‘no reasons were given to him on why he should withdraw Semenya from the championships”.
Adams asks: ‘The question is: why did Chuene suddenly doubt my credibility when I have such credentials behind my name? Did Chuene consult with the ‘high-powered politicians’ to merely get an endorsement and political backing for his preconceived plan of getting a medal at all costs?”
At Chuene’s request, Adams arranged the meeting with the IAAF’s medical team, where he said Semenya’s withdrawal would be unacceptable to top-level politicians and the South African government. ‘He told me to keep quiet in that meeting and that he and Maponyane would defend the country’s position ...”
On Tuesday Chuene told Parliament’s sports committee that the IAAF medical team gave him two options during their meeting: the first, that Semenya should fake an injury and withdraw from the race, which Chuene rejected as ‘unethical”, and the second that ‘she run and finish and the matter can be addressed after the race. Chuene was not comfortable with this option.”
But Adams says that the IAAF team made it clear ‘that Semenya could compete at the World Championships, on condition that she accepted that she would be subjected to the IAAF’s gender verification tests in Berlin and that, if any unfair advantage was detected on the part of her, she would be stripped of any medal she might have won at the championships; or that Semenya is withdrawn from the world championships.
‘If [the latter] was to be the option exercised, the IAAF was comfortable with ASA handling the matter of the gender verification tests back in South Africa and a report on the said tests sent to the IAAF.”
The Democratic Alliance’s Donald Lee said Chuene should be ‘ashamed of the role he has played in this saga. It is disgraceful that he has never been admonished, much less dismissed, for his role in violating the dignity of Caster Semenya. He needs to be held accountable and needs to step down as the head of ASA.”
Last month the M&G exposed Chuene’s trail of lies, including his claim that no gender tests had been conducted on Semenya in South Africa.
The report says that Chuene asked Adams to be present at his press conferences to confirm this claim to put the matter to rest ‘once and for all”.
Adams turned down both requests because he could not endorse a lie.
‘I sincerely believe that Chuene’s decision to refuse that Semenya be withdrawn was ... reckless, short-sighted and grossly irresponsible. Chuene’s orgy of lies had absolutely nothing to do with Semenya but all had to do with Chuene’s selfish interest to cover his back at the expense of Semenya’s welfare,” Adams says.
Youth league president Malema continues to give public support to Chuene, and the ANC’s Caster Semenya task team also attacked the IAAF this week, saying the gender tests ‘were not conducted in keeping with their own stated gender verification policies and rules”.
It demanded that the IAAF make a public apology.
Sources said Adams was reluctant to present his report to the task team on Tuesday because the ANC had already taken a position.
‘The whole thing was well planned; everyone is now blaming the IAAF and this was part of the plan,” the senior official said.
The Adams report is no longer available online
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