ASA angry over Coe comments on Caster

Caster Semenya (AP)
Caster Semenya (AP)

Cape Town - Athletic South Africa (ASA) have expressed their anger in comments from Sebastien Coe, the president of the IAAF, in regards to the highly-publicised Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS) involving Caster Semenya.

In a strongly worded statement released on Friday, ASA "noted with much concern" statements from Coe following the conclusion of the CAS hearing on February 22.

The hearing dealt with the IAAF eligibility regulations for female classification for track events ranging from 400m up to, and including 1 500m,  issued on April 23, 2019.

ASA's main area of concern arises from confidentiality agreements entered into by the parties to the arbitration, namely the IAAF, Caster Semenya, and ASA.

The statement continues:

"Notwithstanding such an agreement, the IAAF have on several occasions (in breach of the agreement) issued public statements on matters relating to, and arising from the regulations. ASA would have preferred an open and transparent hearing of the matter given the (legitimate) global interest therein, but was persuaded that medically sensitive issues, and in particular, privacy issues relating to Ms Semenya, would arise during the proceedings, and that a closed and confidential hearing was appropriate.

"Notwithstanding the agreement, the IAAF have on several occasions issued media releases, and its president has seen fit to comment publicly on matters relating to the regulations.

"Most recently, the IAAF publicly criticised a resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations (UNHCR) at its 40th session held from February 25 to March 22, 2019. The resolution relates to the elimination of discrimination against women and girls in sport, and after reaffirming the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and various UN declarations and conventions relevant to the issue, the resolution expresses concern at what are described as “discriminatory regulations, rules and practices”.

"The resolution furthermore calls upon states to ensure that sporting association and bodies implement policies and practices in accordance with international human rights, norms and standards, and to refrain from developing and enforcing policies and practices that force, coerce or otherwise pressure women and girl athletes into undergoing unnecessary, humiliating and harmful medical procedures in order to participate in women’s events in competitive sports, and to repeal rules, policies and practices that negate their rights to bodily integrity and autonomy. ASA fully supports the call, and the resolution adopted by the UNHCR. Indeed, the resolution accords with a written submission made by the UNHCR to CAS prior to the hearing of the matter. It is therefore nothing new.

ASA had also argued that the IAAF must comply with policies and practices that accord with international human rights, norms and standards, and to implement them. Indeed, the South African Constitution requires ASA to uphold international law.

ASA therefore rejects any criticism of the UNHCR resolution, and its request for the UN High Commissioner to prepare a report in due course."

Coe told the Australia's Daily Telegraph over the weekend that "the reason we have gender classification is because if you didn't then no woman would ever win another title or another medal or break another record in our sport."

The Caster Semenya camp also hit out a Coe in a strongly worded statement early this week saying  "The scars Ms Semenya has developed over the past decade run deep. She has endured and forged herself into a symbol of strength, hope and courage. Reading the comments of Mr Coe this weekend opened those old wounds," the statement read.

ASA says they fully support the statement issued by Semenya's lawyers admonishing Coe and called for the IAAF president to to refrain from further public comment pending the outcome of the case.

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