Government Dismayed Over Caster Decision

Government Dismayed Over Caster Decision


 





MINISTRY OF SPORT AND RECREATION

REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA

 

Private Bag X869, Pretoria, 0001, Tel: (012) 304 5000, Fax: (012) 323 8426

Private Bag X9149, Cape Town, 8000, Tel: (021) 465 5506/7/8/9, Fax: (021) 465 4402

 

MEDIA STATEMENT


 

GOVERNMENT DISMAYED OVER #HANDSOFFCASTER DECISION TO FORCE CASTER SEMENYA TO LOWER HER TESTOSTERONE LEVELS

 

 

Speaking on behalf of the Department of Sport and Recreation, Minister Xasa has on Thursday, expressed disappointment and disgust at the decision by the IAAF to announce a new set of rules for athletes with hyperandrogenism, a decision that will most certainly force South Africa's track princess, Ms Caster Semenya to once again lower her testosterone levels.

 

The new regulations require any athlete who has a difference of sexual development (DSD) that means her levels of circulating testosterone (in serum) are five (5) nmol/L or above and who is androgen-sensitive to meet the following criteria to be eligible to compete in restricted events in an international competition (or set a World Record in a restricted event at competition that is not an international competition)

The new law will apply to athletes that compete in events from 400m to the mile, including 400m, hurdles races, 800m, 1,500m, one-mile races and combined events over the same distances (‘restricted events’).

 

“This unfortunate and targeted decision is at best a witch-hunt against our athlete Caster Semenya and at worst, a decision to lessen the impact of mainly African athlete on the results tally.  It is clear to us as government that at this rate, young rural and African girls may never be able to compete at urban based competitions because of their stature and body physique which at times present them as far stronger than their co-athletes.  We are dismayed that Caster is literally being forced out of the 800m and 1 500m specialists events”, said Minister Xasa. 

"I wish to express my disappointment that this decision is in fact a pronouncement against our own judgement to pick Caster as a core member of the South African athletics team.  This diabolic decision is not only intended to appease aggrieved member countries who have failed to put their money where their mouths are, by winning medals, fairly and squarely”. 

“This decision is a backdoor tactic to ensure that Africa’s talent is depleted on the podium, through this death-knell on the diversity of the nature of the sport of athletics and the international athletics landscape", added Minister Xasa.

“A lesson for all of us here is that we need to look at how we lobby legislation in order to protect our athletes and therefore the pride of Africa.  It is not clear to us how Ms Caster Semenye was swindled into the category that required to be investigated, as her sub-code was originally never CITED as a concern area by the IAAF”, retorted Minister Xasa. 

“We therefore feel that the inclusion of the 800m and 1500m specialist categories is an act target at African, Asian and East European Athletes, because these categories are out rightly dominated by non-white athletes.  Our view therefore, is that this haphazard act is both racist and sectionalist, and is designed to ensure that non-white athletes are hindered from excelling in sport.

 

Firstly, during this year of the centenary of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, we call on the IAAF to review this decision and to apply the principle of fairness and justice.  We believe that this decision will impact negatively on the participation of Ms Caster Semenya in International Tournaments”.  This homophobic stance against our very own should be rejected with the contempt that it deserves.  The world over, should unite to reject this ill-treatment of Ms Semenya and others who have been brutalised and given sub-standard treatment since 2010. 

“Secondly, we also call on all South Africans to stand firm in opposing these new rules that we view as designed to disadvantage our athletes from being competitive.  We also urge all South African sporting codes to support our Caster and all other affected athletes”, emphasised Minister Xasa.

We will continuously engage as government and utilise all available avenues to ensure that Caster and athletes likely to be affected by this are allowed to participate unhindered by measures to reduce their competitive edge. 

We call on South Africans and other African federations to rally behind Ms Semenya by supporting the #HandsOffCaster. Our government will go to every length and breadth to fight and challenge this decision.  Together with all the role-players and stakeholders affected and impacted by this decision, we will study the basis of the report as we seek a possible review of the judgement and accordingly prepare our legal defences, to over-turn this decision. 

Campaign Twitter Handle                           -              #HandsOffCaster

Ends….

Issued by:           The Minister of Sport & Recreation


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