Controversial Athletics South Africa (ASA) president Leonard Chuene remains in office after being given a unanimous vote of confidence at an ASA special general meeting in Kempton Park Thursday.
Chuene again questioned where he had gone wrong in lying about gender tests conducted on women’s world 800m champion Caster Semenya, 18, last month.
This after last weekend admitting he had lied about having any knowledge of tests conducted on Semenya in Pretoria two weeks before she won the title in Berlin, Germany.
SuperSport reports that three days before her first round heat, Chuene and members of ASA’s team management had been advised by team doctor Harold Adams to withdraw the athlete on the basis of the results from the tests done in Pretoria, which Adams had organised after ASA general manager Molatelo Malehopo had given him the go ahead.
An ASA official told Sapa last week that Chuene had initially agreed to withdraw Semenya, but the following day – despite the IAAF medical commission giving him the same advice as Adams, suggesting Semenya feign an injury to keep the sensitive matter confidential – he changed his mind to prevent polictical outcry in South Africa if he withdrew a “black South African woman who had a chance of winning a medal”.
On return to South Africa, Chuene repeatedly denied that tests had been conducted on Semenya, and after admitting he had lied, said he had rejected Adams’ advice because the team doctor could not provide the test results at a hotel room in Berlin where the meeting took place.
And on Thursday he again insisted that, through his deceit, he had intended to protect Semenya.
“People, particularly the media, and some of us here today, probably still think and believe that it was a simple thing for me to do,” Chuene said in his speech when he addressed the special general meeting. “Without justifying myself, it was not. But I am here today to find out from this house what should I have done better?”
He said he was “protecting a child that was looking forward to running in this big, outstanding and prestigious event, who to me had an unquestionable identity as a female – hence I wanted proof to confirm this.
“(I was protecting) a child who deserves the same opportunities as those of her international counterparts, and worse than ever, how was I supposed to break her confidential state of life?”
Chuene went on to ask what the consequences would have been had he followed Adams’ advice and withdrawn Semenya from the global showpiece. “What better explanation would I have given her?” he asked.
“What consequences would have followed thereafter regarding the future of a child who never knew about her predicament — even members of her family had knowledge of this; a child whose dream of running in the international arena had eventually come true; a child whose hope, pride and meaning to life and career is in sport, let alone collecting medals; a child who believed from day one when she got accepted in the world of sport that she could and would outrun her female peers, and at the end, have no knowledge of how she would deal with a stigma that would take years to end, if at all.
“Honourable house, tell me what should I have done better. How was I suppose to have done and handled all these things?”