Athletics SA remains firmly behind Caster Semenya after meeting with IAAF officials
Athletics SA (ASA) officials have reiterated their stance on the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) eligibility regulations for female classification – that the athletics governing body “have a duty to protect all athletes‚ including female athletes who may fall foul of these new regulations”.
This is what ASA president Aleck Skhosana drummed into IAAF president Sebastain Coe during their meeting on Tuesday.
In a joint statement issued by the two parties on Wednesday morning‚ Skhosana said: “We will support our athletes on the grounds that the regulations discriminate against certain female athletes on the basis of natural physical characteristics and/or sex.”
The rules‚ which the IAAF published in April‚ were met with scorn from various sectors‚ South Africa in particular‚ prompting suspicions that they were targeted at Caster Semenya.
The regulations restricted the testosterone levels of female athletes in the distances which are mainly Semenya's specialist disciplines.
“While we have been talking to the IAAF since 10 May 2018‚ we would have preferred more consultation in the development of these regulations‚” Skhosana said in the statement.
In his response‚ Coe insisted that no individual athlete had been targeted.
“To do this we need to create competition categories within our sport that ensures that success is determined by talent‚ dedication and hard work‚ rather than by other factors that are not considered fair or meaningful‚ such as the enormous physical advantages that an adult has over a child‚ or a male athlete has over a female athlete‚” Coe said.
“We therefore need to come up with a fair solution for intersex/DSD athletes wishing to compete in the female category which is what the new regulations set out to do‚ based on the evidence the IAAF has gathered about the degree of performance benefit that such intersex/DSD athletes get from their higher levels of circulating testosterone.”
Semenya had already lodged a case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland to arbitrate the matter in which she lambasted the regulations as “discriminatory‚ irrational‚ unjustifiable‚ and in violation of the IAAF Constitution and the Olympic Charter”.
CAS confirmed last week it had opened a probe into Semenya’s challenge but a date for the hearing is yet to be determined.