Minister Xasa: Hands off Caster Semenya

support needed Sports and Recreation Minster Tokozile Xasa has asked South Africans to rally behind Caster Semenya PHOTO: Gavin Barker / BackpagePix
support needed Sports and Recreation Minster Tokozile Xasa has asked South Africans to rally behind Caster Semenya PHOTO: Gavin Barker / BackpagePix

The IAAF’s new policy on women athletes’ testosterone levels is sexist and racist, Minister of Sports and Recreation Tokozile Xasa has said.

She said the international governing body for athletics was targeting local superstar Caster Semenya.

“We are disappointed because ... it is only after she has participated [in big events] that such sentiments come out,” Xasa said.

She wanted to know why questions were now being raised about “African kids” who were mainly participating in and winning long-distance races.

“Why do they [IAAF] want to determine which races they must run?

“Therefore, we feel it is a targeted kind of approach. And she is a woman. For me that is sexist.”

The IAAF was trying to dictate changes in “natural occurrence” in a person by forcing runners to use medication to alter their hormone levels.

“They are not respecting us and they are only targeting girls,” she claimed.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said this week it would implement a policy requiring women athletes with higher-than-normal levels of testosterone to take medication or undergo surgery to reduce this.

Said Xasa: “We take it as very sexist, very racial and homophobic. We are angry and we want South Africa and everybody in Africa to rally behind us.”

She said the rule must apply to everybody and should not be implemented now that Semenya had won more medals.

“It must not come in when she wins the medal as a way of discouraging or judging her.”

The world 800m champion, Semenya was initially subjected to gender testing in 2009. The minister pleaded with the country to support the Limpopo-born athlete.

“South Africans need to rally behind Caster and say hands off Caster.”

On Friday, News24 reported that Parliament’s portfolio committee on sport said it was appalled by the rules, which would have a direct bearing on Semenya.

Committee chairperson Beauty Dlulane said: “This is heavy-handedness on the part of the IAAF and a plan to suspend Caster. This should be challenged. Policies and regulations should not be made as we go along, merely to kill competition.”

The new regulations will come into effect from November 1. They apply to women who race in five track events: the 400m, 800m, 1 500m, one mile and 400m hurdles.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24


All your favourite publications in one place.
Read now
Voting Booth
Former president Jacob Zuma's legal team has given the chairperson of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, an ultimatum. Either he recuse himself or Zuma will either prolong proceedings or exercise his right to remain silent
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Zuma is undermining Zondo
63% - 849 votes
Zuma is within his rights
9% - 116 votes
Zondo has done a good job
29% - 386 votes