Protracted gender tests cost Caster millions

2010-04-25 11:56

CASTER Semenya’s lengthy gender- test verification process has cost

her millions of rands in potential sponsorships since winning the 800m IAAF

World Championship in Berlin last ­August.

This week the 19-year-old athlete’s coach, Michael Seme, said her

eight-month ordeal had denied her numerous opportunities.

Seme, who was speaking at the launch of the Caster Semenya Sports

Academy (CSSA) website, said: “She lost big-time, because corporate companies

were queuing in a bid to forge partnerships with her. Some even came with car

offers, but at the time Caster’s mind was very disturbed (by stories around her

sex tests).”

As Seme spoke, Semenya nodded in agreement.

“She was in line to make millions, but sadly not even a single

negotiation took place,” said Seme, the ­director of sports and development of

the CSSA.

After initially refusing to comment, Semenya said: “I hope

companies will come in and invest in the academy. Running is not everything to

me. I can help (groom) other athletes.”

Apart from her prize purse of $60?000 (about R470 000) from the

Berlin race, Semenya mostly received incentives from donors such as the ANC

Youth League, which gave her R60?000 on her return from the championships.

Local artists have also collaborated on a celebration album titled

Human Triumph. Poet Mzwakhe Mbuli said all proceeds from the sales would go to

­Semenya. Speaking of her prolonged inactivity, Semenya said it would be

difficult to achieve fast times when she raced again.

“It is possible (to run fast) but it is now impossible given the

fact that I ­haven’t run in a long time,” said the University of Pretoria sports

science student.

Semenya’s personal best is the 1:45:55 she clocked at the

championships, which turned out to be her last race before the gender-test storm

preceded her senior-level debut.

Her lawyers told City Press a fortnight ago that the Tuks Athletics

Club runner should be back on the track by June – or else “hard decisions will

be ­taken”.

That was the ultimatum Greg Nott, managing partner at Dewey

LeBoeuf, who are Semenya’s legal representatives, gave the IAAF in the aftermath

of recent events which saw Athletics South Africa (ASA) preventing her from

running at a domestic meet in Stellenbosch on March 30.

The results of the medical tests, said the lawyers, were expected

to be ­released in June, in time for the European ­Athletics Association race on

June 24 in Zaragoza, Spain, where the SA senior and youth champion is set to

mark her comeback.

Meanwhile, Semenya said her idea of setting up an academy had been

­influenced by her Mozambican idol, Maria Mutola.

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