Saturday, August 29, 2009

Transforming Caster's victory into tragedy

It's not often I am in agreement with anything Max du Preez says (how about, um, never) but he is spot on here.

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I wasn't surprised that Chuene was shouting racism, because that is what South African politicians do when they have something to hide.

Chuene has not explained to the public that the international athletics community is extra-suspicious about Semenya because of the reported presence of former East German sports coach Ekkart Arbeit on ASA's athletics coaching staff.





(interview with Tim Noakes)


Mokgadi Caster Semenya was let down badly by Athletics South Africa (ASA) president Leonard Chuene, by ANC Youth League president Julius Malema and by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. They should be ashamed of themselves.

The three brazenly hijacked her homecoming after her thrilling win at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin and instead of making it her special day, they used her to boost their own waning public images. I found Tuesday's political spectacle at OR Tambo International Airport vulgar and revolting.The International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) announcement that Semenya was going to be tested to make sure she was a woman was met by a wave of indignation and outrage by South Africans of all groupings and by the country's media.
Black, white and brown South Africans adopted her as a new national hero and demonstrated an extraordinary national outpouring of caring towards the 18-year-old.

But Chuene, Malema and Madikizela-Mandela decided for their own opportunistic political agendas to trample on this fairly rare example of national unity and blame white South Africans for the athlete's trauma.

Semenya is destined to become South Africa's greatest athlete ever. In the next year or three she could become as sensational as Jamaica's Usain Bolt.

But not if Madikizela-Mandela and Chuene have their way. The IAAF can "stuff the tests" and "nobody will touch our little girl", they say.

Well, the IAAF has no choice any longer. According to the rules, if Semenya's gender had been officially questioned, it has to do the tests. If she is prevented from undergoing the tests, she will be barred from international competition. Is that what the head of athletics in South Africa wants?

Chuene is to blame for most of this trauma visited upon our golden athlete. Instead of strutting around on stage insulting everybody, he should have quietly resigned and withdrawn from public life.

The ASA knew Semenya's gender had been challenged as long as two years ago by parents of girls she competed against.

Chuene knows very well that people have talked about her gender in the sports community ever since she started winning races.

If Chuene really cared about Semenya, he would have pre-empted this traumatic experience. He would have told the IAAF, of which he was an executive member, long before the world championships, that there is South African girl with a deep voice and a masculine build, but that she is all female.

He would have told them that she grew up as a girl with other girls. He would have told them the genitalia test had been done on her, because a doping official had to watch her from up close deposit a urine sample, as all athletes have to do.

He would have told them that it was found then that she had a fairly high level of testosterone, but it was determined that it wasn't anything illegal or untoward.

If Chuene had prepared the IAAF in this way, it would not have behaved so foolishly and this unpleasant episode would have been avoided. Any other responsible sports leader would have done it.

I wasn't surprised that Chuene was shouting racism, because that is what South African politicians do when they have something to hide.

Chuene has not explained to the public that the international athletics community is extra-suspicious about Semenya because of the reported presence of former East German sports coach Ekkart Arbeit on ASA's athletics coaching staff.

Arbeit became notorious when he was accused of feeding his athletes anabolic steroids and synthetic testosterone during the Cold War.

One former East German athlete, Heidi Kruger, accused Arbeit of giving her so many drugs that she was forced to become a man. She had sex-change operations and is now known as Andreas Krieger.

Back in 2002 there was a huge controversy when ASA appointed Arbeit.

There is no evidence to suggest that Arbeit has done anything wrong in South Africa or that he has given Semenya anything illegal to take.

But Chuene at least has to explain to angry South Africans that his presence in South Africa has fuelled the speculation. Instead, he and the other ANC opportunists blame "white South Africans" and "the white media".

I found it distasteful that Malema and others in the ANC are now masquerading as the champion of women's rights. Weren't they the same crowd who harassed and insulted the young woman who accused their leader of raping her? Wasn't Malema the man who made the sexist remark about women who ask for taxi money after having sex? Wasn't Malema the one who called a woman 28 years his senior, DA leader Helen Zille, a "little girl"? Wasn't it the Youth League which accused Zille of sleeping with all her senior appointees? And where, may I ask, were the Youth League's protests when Eudy Simelane, former national soccer player, was raped and killed because she was a lesbian?

Caster Semenya deserved better than this disgusting opportunism.

3 Opinion(s):

Viking said...

Excellent post!

Anonymous said...

What a load of bullshit! More PC bullshit now that you cant tell a male from a female without certainty. I see the hidden hand saying gay marriages are ok as the person might not be male of female.

Anonymous said...

justbeen reading the Volksblad. we had a drowning last week in one of the dams. an autopsy was performed by our wonderful crowd that probably tested this person's testostrone limits well according to them - after the body had been sent back 3 times that he didn't die from drowning, but a hole in his lung!!! can u believe the incompetance????
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