Friday, November 06, 2009

Support For Caster Semenya: Let Us Celebrate Our World Champions

Let us celebrate our world champions

Support for Caster Semenya

Courtesy of ANC Today
November 6, 2009

The ANC NEC of 17-19 September 2009, appalled by the manner in which the IAAF and the ASA handled the issue of Caster Semenya. The NEC was of the view that she has been victimised and subjected to unnecessary public scrutiny, and thus denied her rights and undermined her dignity.

The ANC established a task team to give concrete and practical support to Caster Semenya and her family. The team was lead by the ANC Secretary General and convened by ANC National Spokesperson, Jackson Mthembu.

It is constituted of senior ANC leaders, namely

Winnie Madikizela- Mandela (NEC)
Manto Tshabalala-Msimang (NEC)
Gwen Ramokgopa (Gauteng PEC)
Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya (NEC)
Aaron Motsoaledi (NEC)
Joyce Mashamba (NEC)
Sisisi Tolashe (NEC/ANCWL)
Vuyiswa Tulelo (ANCYL)

The Caster Semenya Support Team was established to mobilise the South African civil society, our government, corporate South Africa, and the South Africa sporting fraternity to ensure that;

Caster and her family are afforded redress by all those who violated her rights during and in the aftermath of her gender testing;
Caster and her family are given professional help so as to deal with the implications of her gender testing;
Caster continues to advance her exceptional talent as a female athlete of international repute;
Her family, her community, South Africa at large, the continent and the world celebrate Caster's victory in Berlin and those of Mulaudzi and Mokoena.

In taking forward these four objectives and mobilising South Africans around the objectives above, the Task Team met with the family of Caster Semenya as well as the Moletjie community (a village where Caster was born) who welcomed the ANC initiative.

The task team also met the following stakeholders who fully agreed to support the Task Team and all its activities:

University of Pretoria
South African Student Congress (SASCO)
Athletic South Africa
Department of Sport and Recreation
ANC Parliamentary study group on Sport
Caster Lawyers
Med Scheme
Organised formation of South African musicians
Dr Harold Adams
Department of Transport
Department of Arts and Culture

After concluding the consultations with all these organisations and after interrogating the volumes of submissions made, the task team decided to hand over its findings that deals with the redress on the mishandling of the gender verification process of Caster by Athletics South Africa and the IAAF, to the Ministry of Sport and Recreation, for further probing and conclusions.

The task team findings reveal that ASA took part in the gender verification process of Caster Semenya. The tests done in South Africa were conducted at their instance. They instructed their doctor to conduct such tests and provided resources including transport, a psychologist (who is one of their board members) to conduct counselling which ultimately was aborted.

In their submission to the task team ASA members were less than honest and very defensive and did not disclose their role in the process and in sanctioning the gender verification tests conducted in South Africa. They intentionally deceived South Africans, the President, Caster and her family.

Further, it is the view of the task team that ASA should have protected Caster before they left for Berlin and in Berlin and it must come clean to all South Africans and our government regarding their role in this saga.

With regard to the IAAF, the task team maintain that they should apologise to Caster, her family and South Africa as well as to the leadership of the Republic for the violation of Caster's rights and the resultant humiliation. It is the view of the task team that IAAF should declare the gender verification results conducted both in South Africa and Berlin null and void based on the following IAAF gender verification policy 2006:

a) The IAAF gender verification policy state that there should be a complaint or a challenge from another athlete/ team before an investigation can be conducted. The policy states that:

Gender issues are likely to arise as a result of:

Challenge' by another athlete or team as brought forward to authorities at an athletic event, including the President of the meet, technical delegate, medical delegate;

b) Suspicion’ raised as to an athletes' gender as witnessed during an anti doping control specimen collection; an approach made to the IAAF/regional AAA or National federation by an athlete or his representative for advice and clarification.

In the task team interaction with this matter, there is no evidence that any athlete or a team brought forward to authorities a complaint or a challenge against Caster in Berlin. As it applies to B, no suspicion was raised at any anti doping control specimen collection against Caster's gender.

c) If there is any 'suspicion' or if there is a 'challenge' then the athlete concerned can be asked to attend a medical evaluation before a panel comprising a gynaecologist, endocrinologist, psychologist, internal medicine specialist, expert on gender/transgender issues. The medical delegate can do an initial check.

In the task team interaction with this matter ASA and IAAF conducted gender tests in SA and Berlin with no panel of such specialists as envisaged above was established to do a medical evaluation of Caster both in South Africa and in Berlin.

d) Accordingly, the steps to be followed in handling cases of gender ambiguity, the following must happen:

The athlete is referred to the investigating authority in confidence for further investigation and advice; The verdict is passed on to the national federation with advice for further action including appropriate advice to the athlete as the need to withdraw from competition until the problem is definitively resolved through appropriate medical and surgical measures;

There is evidence that Caster was not taken into confidence, because Nick Davis, the IAAF spokesperson, disclosed in a press conference publicly that such tests will be conducted on Caster. The alleged tests results were also leaked to the international media.

It is the view of the task team that the gender verification of Caster was not in accordance with the gender verification policy of the IAAF as demonstrated through the above facts. It is for the reasons above that we therefore call for the nullification of the results as they have been compromised. They cannot therefore be used for any decision-making.

The task team will continue its role to give whatever support that Caster and her family might need. It is also on-course regarding the articulation of a celebration programme for Caster, Mulaudzi and Mokoena. The programme that began with the gala dinner of the ANC Youth League will be carried forward with an intense eight weeks of activities from December 2009 to January 2010. The programme will include provincial and national activities.

The task team has established the support Caster contact facility and has received positive and encouraging feedback, pledges and commitments by individuals and institutions in support of the campaign.

People can call, fax or e-mail the task team office at:

Tel (011) 376 1052
Fax: 0866581053

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