SA firmly behind Semenya

Countrys athletics chief hits out at insensitive IAAF

Caster Semenya, whose rapid improvement over last year prompted the test, won the women's world 800 metres title with a crushing performance in Berlin on Wednesday.
"We condemn the motives of those who have made it their business to question her gender due to her physique and running style. Such comments can only serve to portray women as being weak," the African National Congress said in a statement.

"Caster is not the only woman athlete with a masculine build and the International Association of Athletics Federation should know better."

A group of doctors, including an endocrinologist, a gynaecologist, an internal medicine expert, an expert on gender and a psychologist have started the gender test but the results may not be known for days, if not weeks.

Radio stations have been abuzz with discussions of Semenya and the test that has overshadowed her speed on the track.

South Africans may be especially sensitive about their athletes ahead of hosting the 2010 Soccer World Cup which officials hope will bring the country international prestige. The controversy drew an angry reaction from the ANC Youth League, which said all South Africans were behind Semenya.

Humiliating

Meanwhile, South Africa’s athletics chief said the gender controversy surrounding Semenya has been humiliating for her. "I will continue to defend the girl, I will continue to do anything, even if I am to be kicked out of Berlin, Germany, but I am not going to let that girl be humiliated in the manner that she was humiliated because she has not committed a crime whatsoever. Her crime was to be born the way she is born," said Athletics South Africa president Leonard Chuene.

"And now people are not happy, and on that basis she is isolated like a leper, like she has got a disease that will affect other people, and I don't think it's proper," he said.
I think what they should have done is to protect her until the results are out and then we sit and look at it," Chuene said.

"Because even if the results are out, if we sit and look at it, at home they would like to have a second opinion, these are her parents, this is not going to be a simple thing.”

Reuters

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