The world athletics governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), should just let Caster Semenya run.
It is a shame that this week the runner will once more square up against the powerful body at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the international quasi-judicial body that deals with settling disputes related to sport, through arbitration. The hearing, in which Semenya is challenging the IAAF’s rule changes that would force her to lower her testosterone levels to be allowed to run as a woman, will be held at the CAS headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Since winning the 800m race at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium at the World Track and Field Championships in August 2009 at the age of 18, the IAAF has made her life a living hell.
At the event, she was not even among the three top finishers at the post-race news conference. Her place was instead taken by IAAF general secretary Pierre Weiss who glibly said that Semenya’s “sex-determination” test before the race – about which she had not been fully informed – had been initiated because of “ambiguity, not because we believe she is cheating”.
This was the beginning of a chain of events that led to the IAAF suggesting these discriminatory, if not humiliating, rule changes be implemented in November but Semenya’s appeal has seen them being put in abeyance.
This flies right in the face of the IAAF, which in 1982 passed several amendments to its rules to allow athletes to receive compensation for participating in international competitions.
All Semenya has done is to use her talent to make a living by running. But, instead of being showered with praise, she has been vilified and demonised by the same organisation that is supposed to protect athletes’ rights. All credit to her for continuing amid the negativity around her.
The IAAF must just let Caster Semenya run. Finish and klaar!