Chuene denies lying about Semenya

2009-10-20 15:06

Athletics SA (ASA) president Leonard Chuene has denied lying about

not having any knowledge of gender tests conducted on Caster Semenya.

Briefing the National Assembly’s sport and recreation committee

today, he said: “Our position is documented.”

“We learnt from the past that we were called liars even if we have

put everything on paper. But they said ‘you lied’. I don’t understand.”

Chuene said a statement, read to the committee by ASA spokesperson

Chris Brits today, was the same statement issued at a press conference in

Pretoria on September 19.

He had then read the following day that “I lied to the country,

said all these things”.

In the statement, Chuene admitted that he refused to accept advice

from ASA team doctor Harold Adams to withdraw Semenya from the World Athletics

Championships in Berlin in August.

He also said that ASA knew about a gender test conducted on Semenya

in Pretoria on August 7.

However, ASA’s behaviour on the matter was intended to protect

Semenya’s confidentiality.

Adams organised the gender tests on Semenya after ASA general

manager Molatelo Malehopo had given him the go-ahead, following a request from

the international athletics body, the International Association of Athletics

Federations (IAAF), for the national federation to conduct tests on the

athlete.

“Despite increased media interest on Caster Semenya and issues

surrounding her gender, members of ASA continued to deny the existence or

knowledge of these tests as they believed that maintaining confidentiality would

protect her as an individual on this highly sensitive requirement.

“Had ASA admitted its knowledge at the time, it would have

compromised Caster Semenya’s privacy of this extremely sensitive issue and

unfairly fuelled the debate and speculations surrounding the tests.”

ASA did not deny knowledge of the tests with any malice and the

intention was never to deceive the South African public.

At the time, ASA felt it was acting in Semenya’s best

interests.

It was an error of judgement for which ASA and Chuene apologised

unconditionally.

However, he could not apologise for allowing Semenya to run or for

protecting her privacy.

Under the circumstances, the matter could, without a doubt, have

been handled differently.

But it should be understood that team management had to take

decisions on the spot, based on the evidence available at that point, and had

the mandate to do so, he said.


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