The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) has voiced its disappointment with the decision taken by the IAAF on Thursday to amend their classification for athletes with differences in sexual development.
It’s a decision relating to ‘female or intersex (or equivalent)’ athletes and affects those with elevated blood testosterone levels competing in five events – 400m, 800m, 1500m, one mile and the 400m hurdles.
South Africa’s Caster Semenya, who is the world and Olympic champion over 800m and won the gold medal in the 800m and 1500m at the recent Commonwealth Games, is expected to be affected by the new ruling, which will come into effect on 1 November.
SASCOC contends that while it respects the processes, it is concerned that the rights, confidentiality and privacy of athletes are being affected.
Said SASCOC president Gideon Sam: ‘All our athletes have our unequivocal backing. We continue to produce high-quality sportsmen and women and will continue protecting the rights and dignity of our athletes and our member federations.
‘Obviously, SASCOC is disappointed by the IAAF ruling, and especially given that Caster’s name is again being dragged through the publicity mill. While we are guided by, and respectful of, sports law, we continue to produce athletes of a high calibre and support them every step of the way. We feel that, as a sports movement, we should be allowed to debate things in the right atmosphere and that the protection of athletes and their dignity and human rights are at the top of the agenda.
‘We are concerned that the decisions have been approved without taking into account all factors into consideration, as these factors have not been properly nor fully ventilated. We wish to place on record that Caster Semenya has never engaged in any performance-enhancing activities and any enhanced testosterone levels are due solely to her genetic make-up,’ he said.
‘We understand the emotion around the IAAF’s ruling, but we first need to conduct a detailed study into the ruling and internally we will be engaging with both the Athletics SA and SASCOC medical commissions before deciding on what step needs to be taken going forward,’ Sam added.