Lying Leonard comes clean about sex tests

2009-09-19 15:28

ATHLETICS South Africa’s president ­Leonard Chuene admitted that he lied about not having any knowledge of sex tests conducted on Caster Semenya in ­Pretoria last month.

He also admitted that he refused to ­accept advice from ASA team doctor ­Harold Adams to withdraw her from the world athletics championships in Berlin, where Semenya won a gold medal in the 800m race.

He said that ASA’s deception on the ­testing was intended to protect Semenya’s confidentiality.

Tempers flared yesterday when Chuene faced the media to explain whether he knew that Semenya’s gender was in question with the International Athletics Associations Federation (IAAF) before she travelled to Berlin.

Chuene stuck to his guns that he had not seen any written results stating that she was or could be a hermaphrodite, ­although he confirmed that tests were ­conducted in South Africa and ASA knew about them.

“I now realise that it was an error of ­judgment and I would like to apologise ­unconditionally. As president of ASA I will not, however, apologise for allowing ­Caster Semenya to run or for protecting her privacy,” said Chuene.

“Even if I had the results, I would not have withdrawn Caster Semenya from the team. Is it not better to make a decision than not make a decision at all?” he asked.

There have been widespread calls for Chuene’s resignation, but Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile is out of the country.

His spokesperson, Lerato Mogorosi, said she was still waiting for the minister to ­advise her on the way forward.

Chuene was adamant that he would not ­resign, but the parliamentary sports portfolio committee made it clear that he would not be spared when he appears before Parliament in three weeks time to clarify matters around the debacle.

The fact that Chuene was a close ally of the ­chairperson of the committee, Butana Komphela, would not save him from being hauled over the coals.

Komphela told City Press that Chuene would not be treated with kidgloves.

He said the committee wanted to hear the real story and exactly what had happened with the tests.

He added that ASA would have to ­explain who carried out the tests, where and with whose ­permission.

Komphela said members of the ­committee visited Semenya at the University of Pretoria this week to check how she was doing and to assure her that the ­country was behind her.

Semenya’s future hangs in the balance and there seems to be no end in sight as the story of the 18-year-old world champion continues to unfold.

A team of South African legal experts, scientists and the ministry of sports is ­preparing “to fight to the bitter end” to make sure that Semenya continues to ­compete in athletics.

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