Caster: No knowledge of R25m govt payment to fight case

Caster Semenya (Gallo Images)
Caster Semenya (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - While grateful for the support she has received, South African star runner Caster Semenya has distanced herself from reports that government has paid R25 million towards her ongoing gender court hearing against the IAAF in Switzerland.

READ: ASA welcomes global support for Caster

Semenya is challenging the proposed rule amendment by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that seeks to restrict the levels of testosterone in female athletes.

Should she fail in her quest, the proposed IAAF ruling would see Semenya forced to lower her natural testosterone levels if she wants to keep competing in women's athletics.

In a press statement released by Semenya's law firm Norton Rose Fulbright on Thursday, the double-Olympic 800m gold medal winner was quoted as saying that 'whilst I have no knowledge of what was paid by the government to its legal and medical team in respect of its own case, my personal representation has been funded mainly by private funders and the portion funded by the government is a small fraction of the amount that has been quoted in the article.'

Semenya, 28, added that 'it has also come to my attention that there is a petition that has been started by an organisation in support of me (Caster Semenya) which requests as part of a sign-up a donation of money. I have no knowledge of and have no affiliation to this petition and it has not been sanctioned by me. I will not be receiving any of these funds and donors are advised accordingly. I am grateful for all the local and global support that I have received.'

READ: 10 000 sign #HandsOffCaster petition

Semenya's case has received world-wide coverage and has been endorsed and supported by SA President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The hearing began on Monday and is scheduled to wrap up on Friday, with a final ruling expected around March 29, 2019.

Semenya earlier in the week confirmed a 10-person high-level panel to accompany her as well as a 10-person list of experts to fight her case.

The South African high-level panel members:

1. Alec Moemi (Director-General of Sport and Recreation South Africa‚ who shall be the convener/chairperson of the Panel)

2. Dr Debbie Alexander (Board member of the South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee‚ and a medical doctor)

3. Aleck Skhosana (president of Athletics South Africa)

4. Dr Harold Adams (deputy president of ASA)

5. Richard Stander (CEO of ASA)

6. Professor Steve Cornelius (a professor at the University of Pretoria who is also the head of its law department)

7. Professor Ross Tucker (professor at the University of Cape Town)

8. Dr Phathokuhle Zondi (Chairperson of Sascoc’s Medical Advisory Committee)

9. A legal team to be appointed by ASA

10. Kenetswe Mosenogi (director: sport scientific support services at SRSA who shall render the Secretariat Services to the panel)

The 10 experts who will provide evidence in support of Semenya:

Professor Veronica Gomez-Lobo - Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Georgetown University and the Director of the DSD Clinic at the Children’s National Health System in Washington, DC. She is a pediatric and adolescent gynaecologist with specialized experience in DSD.

Dr Alun Williams - Director of the Sports Genomics Laboratory at Manchester Metropolitan University. He specializes in genetic differences that impact athletic performance and has published numerous academic papers on the topic, including original research data.

Professor Eric Vilain A geneticist specialized in gender-based and endocrine genetics, including DSD. He has spent almost a decade analyzing whether female athletes with DSD should be subject to regulation, including in consultation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and as part of working groups including IAAF representatives.

Professor Roger Pielke Jr - The director of the Sports Governance Center at the University of Colorado. He holds degrees in mathematics, public policy and political science. With over 25 years of experience in the field of science and technology policy, with a particular emphasis on sport governance, he is considered a world leading expert in this area.

Professor Dankmar Böhning - Professor and the Chair in Medical Statistics at the University of Southampton. He holds a PhD in mathematics and is an expert in statistics, with a specialty in statistical analysis of medical data. His experience in sport data analysis includes the Growth Hormone 2004 Project.

Professor Richard Holt - Professor of Diabetes and Endocrinology at the University of Southampton and a specialist doctor at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. He has a particular specialty in sports-related endocrinology research, including extensive research in the area of growth hormone.

Professor Anthony C Hackney - Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with joint appointments in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science and the Department of Nutrition School of Public Health. He holds a PhD in Exercise Physiology and a DSc in Sports Science Physiology, and has over 30 years of experience conducting scientific research on endocrinology and exercise training.

Dr Lih-Mei Liao - Licensed clinical psychologist and health psychologist in the UK. She has worked extensively with women diagnosed with a range of DSD conditions. Her research has helped highlight the negative impact of controversial medical interventions to alter women’s healthy bodies.

Dr Payoshni Mitra - Scholar and advocate with a decade of experience working closely with athletes with hyperandrogenism and/or DSD from the Global South. Her work focuses on the mental and physical harm caused by the regulation and testing of such athletes. She teaches Sport Sociology at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Ms Ashley LaBrie - Executive Director of AthletesCAN, an independent not-for-profit organization that represents the interests of all national team athletes in Canada. International and Domestic Legal Experts, a number of experts relating to domestic and international laws who provide independent opinions, including on the law of South Africa, India, the United States, England, and the European Union. This includes a representative of Human Rights Watch.

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