Confusion after Caster Semenya says she has no knowledge of government's R25-million backing of her case

Caster Semenya of South Africa celebrates winning the Women's 800m at the Meeting de Paris of the IAAF Diamond League 2018 on June 30, 2018 in Paris, France.
Caster Semenya of South Africa celebrates winning the Women's 800m at the Meeting de Paris of the IAAF Diamond League 2018 on June 30, 2018 in Paris, France.
Image: Andy Astfalck/Getty Images

The unified front between Caster Semenya's lawyers and government showed a crack on Thursday as the athlete released a statement that appeared to conflict with comments made by the Sports ministry a few days ago.

Semenya continues her fight with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) at the Court of Arbitration for Sport's (CAS) in Lausanne on Friday but it is the statement that was released on her behalf by her lawyers on Thursday that raised a lot of eyebrows.

The 800m Olympic champion said in the statement released by her lawyers Norton Rose Fulbright Inc that she has no knowledge of how much government is going to contribute to her personal legal fees in the case against the IAAF.

The release added that a large portion of her legal fees is funded privately and through donors.

Government‚ on the hand hand‚ confirmed last week that they have budgeted about R25m for the entire challenge.

“Whilst I have no knowledge of what was paid by the government to its legal and medical team in respect of its own case‚ my personal representation has been funded mainly by private funders and the portion funded by the government is a small fraction of the amount that has been quoted‚” the statement said.

Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa's spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga told SowetanLIVE from Lausanne on Thursday afternoon that part of the R25-million that has been made available by government will go towards Semenya’s private lawyers and the breakdown will only be determined at a later stage.

“The R25m that is being talked about is an estimate for the whole process and it includes lawyers and experts for Athletics South Africa (ASA)‚ international medical and legal experts and other related issues such as flights‚ accommodation and research‚" said Mhaga from Lausanne where he has travelled with to support Semenya at the hearings.

"It is also worth noting that the foreign experts are going to be paid in their currencies.

“Obviously I don’t know the breakdown of what is going to be paid to her (Semenya’s) private lawyers but a determination will be made when the whole process is finished.

"As government‚ we remain committed to helping Caster by any means possible through this period.”

The widely criticised rules would force "hyperandrogenic" athletes or those with "differences of sexual development" (DSD) to medically lower their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount.

The IAAF wants to introduce the rule changes to promote what it says will be fairer competition between all female athletes.

Semenya‚ who has also attracted support from around the globe in her attempt to stop IAAF from introducing new rules‚ also distanced herself from a petition under her name.

“It has also come to my attention that there is a petition that has been started by an organisation in support of Caster Semenya which requests as part of a sign-up a donation of money‚" the statement continues.

"I have no knowledge of and have no affiliation to this petition and it has not been sanctioned by me.

"I will not be receiving any of these funds and donors are advised accordingly.”

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