Saturday, 12 September 2009

Semenya the Victim in Overly Politicised Issue

When the initial revelations started emerging about the sexual status of Caster Semenya Nickssportsrant was reluctant to pass judgement due to the complexity of the whole saga. However the ensuing behaviour of the Australian media, the IAAF, and the South African Government has meant that there is now something of substance that I can definitely rant about.

Regardless of what the medical tests from the IAAF eventually show, some facts have already become crystallised; The IAAF are a floundering, loose mouthed, wast of space! The Australian press are unprofessional and soulless! Finally the South African government is worse than both of these put together. Let me deal with the IAAF first.

Rumours first began to circulate about the sexuality of the South African athlete just before she was due to compete in the World Championship 800m final. It was then leaked to the press that Semenya was to be investigated regarding her sexuality. Rather than trying to plug the leak the IAAF simply caved in and announced that it had doubts over whether Semenya was a man or a woman. Gordon Farquhar (BBC Correspondent) is correct in saying that most Drug cheats are given more protection from their governing body. Because of this initial leak the Press waded in on the issue and turned a complex and sensitive issue into a circus with papers like the Sun being quoted as saying "does it really take 'weeks' to determine a person's sex? Surely a quick look in her under crackers would suffice?". The IAAF must have known that their leak would cause huge embarrassment and mental distress to the young 18 year old Athlete.

After all this you would think that the IAAF would be really careful not to leak any details of the ongoing medical tests taking place. No sooner than these tests have started and another leak comes out allegedly saying that Semenya has both male and female sexual organs. Incredible! Why don't the IAAF just put the young girl in front of a shooting squad. I sincerely hope that when the dust settles on this whole affair Semeya gets herself a legal team and sues the IAAF for all they are worth.

The latest leak is however a little dubious. If you read the article (in the Sydney Daily Telegraph) where the leak first surfaced there is very little in the way of fact, simply because the source of the leak isn't disclosed, therefore anyone could have made it up. In my eyes this is just yet more sensationalism on the part of the press in a vane attempt to sell more papers and yet again attacks an innocent 18 year old.

Who then is on the Semenya's side? Who is looking after her interests? The South African Governement would have us all believe that it is them. In truth though their overblown reaction to the whole affair is simply a smoke screen put up to hide their own failings. The newly elected ANC is about 6 months into its new term as governing party of South Africa. Crime and Corruption are on the rise (According to critics of the ANC quoted at Timesonline) and the government need a story to mask underlying problems. Semenya's story is a perfect way to unite a country and blind its population from other issues. To be quoted as saying that the whole issue could cause a "Third World War"( the words of SA sports minister) is just yet more sensationalism, but this time not from the press but a government actively courting the image of the great protector.

This whole story should never have made it past the walls of the IAAF offices. Lets hope in the future that young vulnerable athletes are treated better both by their governing body and their own home nation. With regards to what should be done with the medals and ensuing bans. The athlete should be banned from competition till she has corrective surgery. She should keep her medal, but the other runners should be given medals according to where they would have placed had she not been running.

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