Athletics body apologises to Semenya

Athletics South Africa (ASA) has apologised “unconditionally” over its handling of athlete Caster Semenya’s gender-verification test.

In a statement released on Thursday, it said it took note of the African National Congress’s Caster Semenya support task team media statement, which decried the way ASA and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) handled the matter.

“ASA appreciates the ANC’s position on this matter, fully welcomes and accepts without any reservations the findings and recommendations of the task team,” it said.

“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.”

The board would lead a delegation to meet the athlete, 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.”

It was fully prepared to cooperate with any legitimate body that wanted to get closure on the matter.
It would also make presentations to the minister of sport and recreation to explain the actions taken by ASA officials prior to, during and after the competition in Berlin, if requested. ASA would also talk about how the administration of sport could be improved.

“Our proposals also focus on improved management of relationships with key stakeholders, including international sporting federations such as the IAAF.”

It would “support and participate in any other initiatives that seek to celebrate the successes of our athletes”.

Semenya was thrown into the limelight after winning the 800m at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin in August, but then it emerged that gender tests had been conducted on her.

ASA president Leonard Chuene has admitted lying to the South African public about not having any knowledge of the gender tests. He has since apologised for that, saying the lie was to protect her.—Sapa

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