25 March 2019


SA fully behind Caster Semenya 

by: Nthusang Lefafa   date: 04 May 2018

South Africa has rallied behind its golden girl, long distance athlete, Caster Semenya following new restricting rules by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on female athletes who have high levels of testosterone.
Last week, the IAAF announced that it would ban female hyperandrogenic athletes – including those with naturally occurring high levels of testosterone - from taking part in specific events such as the 800 metres and 1500 metres long distance running competitions.
The rule changes may end the career of the successful middle distance runner and it has led to the resignation of South African Law professor, Steve Cornelius, from the IAAF committee.  
Cornelius slammed the controversial rule that is believed to target gold medal-winning South African runner Semenya. He said he could not continue with his role in “good conscience”. 
"The adoption of the new eligibility regulations for female classification is based on the same kind of ideology that has led to some of the worst injustices and atrocities in the history of the planet," Professor Cornelius said.
In his resignation letter the South African law professor accused the IAAF president, Lord Sebastian Coe, of empty reform promises.
"How the IAAF Council can, in the 21st Century, when we are meant to be more tolerant and aware of fundamental human rights, even contemplate these kinds of objectionable regulations, is a sad reflection on the fact that the antiquated views of the 'old' scandal-hit IAAF still prevails and that your promises of reform have been empty indeed," said Professor Cornelius in the letter.
The IAAF's investigation also found no advantage in the 1500 metres event but it was included, leading to accusations that the new rule is indeed targeting Semenya, whose participation always sparks speculation and unwanted debate. 
The governing African National Congress (ANC) said Semenya has been a target of the IAAF over the past decade. 
“These laws target amongst others Caster Semenya who has been over the past decade constantly put under undue pressure. We have always understood sport as a unifier and a tool to bring people and nations together. It is for this reason and many that the ANC cannot ignore the attempt by the IAAF to discriminate and exclude athletes. These new regulations infringe on the human rights of athletes, targeting mainly those in East Europe, Asia and the African continent. The racial undertones of this cannot go unnoticed.
“The regulations are a painful reminder of our past where an unjust government specifically legislated laws for certain activists in society to stifle their fight against an unjust system. The IAAF uses the same tactic to exclude those who have defined the past decade as champions and treasures of their home countries,” said the ANC.
Semenya won two gold medals – for 800m and 1500m - at this year’s Commonwealth Games held in Australia. 

The ANC has promised to stand by Semenya all the way as the IAAF tries to exclude her from taking part in sport. 
“We call on government to challenge this grossly unfair, unjust and blatant racist attempt by the IAAF to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and have these regulations set aside. The ANC will stand with Caster Semenya in yet another attempt by international sport bodies to exclude and discriminate against her”. 
Even Parliament hit back at the discriminatory rules. 
Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete and Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Thandi Modise called the regulations "unjust, sexist, dehumanising and should be condemned by all human rights proponents in the world".
"Physiques of African women have and continue to suffer unjustified and racially humiliating scrutiny and mockery. This must stop," they said. 
Athletics South Africa (ASA) Limpopo President, Tshifiwa Makhoshi, said ASA would stand by Semenya through this difficult time. 
“As an organisation we promise to support Semenya and use all channels to ensure that she is not stopped from competing. This policy affects African women in sport and prevents them from excelling on an international stage,” Makhoshi said.
Semenya has been battling with IAAF since 2009 when she was first investigated at Berlin world championships. Over the past decade, the IAAF has been constructing regulations that would, in effect, remove her from competition.