IAAF president calls off trip to South Africa

The head of track and field’s world governing body has called off a visit to South Africa to discuss the results of 800-meter world champion Caster Semenya’s gender tests.

IAAF president Lamine Diack put off the trip to South Africa this weekend because he received an invitation to meet the Russian president at a major sports summit in that country, IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said on Friday.

The IAAF, which has been criticized in South Africa for its handling of the Semenya case, said Mr. Diack still hoped to meet with South African officials once they have turned over the results of their own gender tests on the runner.

“The South Africa trip may still take place, and if it does, the reason for it is very clear,” Mr. Davies told The Associated Press. “The president would like to find a solution to this matter which puts the interests of the athlete first. To do this, he believes it is important to find a consensus.”

The 18-year-old Semenya has been under intense international scrutiny since winning the women’s 800 at the world championships in Berlin in August.

The IAAF ordered gender tests on Semenya before the final to determine whether she was eligible to compete as a woman. It is still reviewing the results, and has refused to confirm or deny Australian media reports that the tests indicate Semenya has male and female sex organs.

The IAAF council is scheduled to consider the case next month in Monaco.

In the meantime, Mr. Davies said the IAAF wants to compare its test results with those conducted by Athletics South Africa in Pretoria on Aug. 7 before the championships.

“We have still not received any written results,” Mr. Davies said.

He said the IAAF results have been analyzed by eight medical experts, four from inside the federation’s own medical commission and four from outside.

“This is why the president is ready to talk to the South African sports minister,” Mr. Davies said. “We hope not only to have a group of approved experts ... but also the results from the Aug. 7 tests for obvious reasons — so that the results can be compared to the Berlin results. Once that is done, we hope to be able to discuss the results and any necessary consequences directly with Semenya.”

The decision follows a spate of anti-IAAF criticism in South Africa, claiming the body mishandled the Semenya case and failed to follow its own procedures. Some politicians and sports administrators have demanded that Diack apologize to Semenya, her family and the people of South Africa.

“We have sent a letter to the IAAF expressing our dissatisfaction with the harm they have caused this girl,” said Butana Komphela, the chair of parliament’s sports and recreation committee. “She has been though a lot of hell and we will not allow anyone to bedevil her any further.”

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 8:09:27 PM |

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