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IAAF rules a continued attack on the persona of Caster Semenya: sports ministry

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The International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) new rules are a continued attack on the persona of South African athletics star Caster Semenya, the sports and recreation ministry said on Thursday.

The IAAF announced on Thursday that some female athletes, who have naturally high testosterone levels, will have to race against men or change events, if they do not take medication to lower their levels.

The regulations will come into effect from November 1, 2018.

The rules will apply to women who race in five track events – 400m, 800m, 1500m, one mile and 400m hurdles.

But Sport and Recreation Minister Toko Xasa said she believed the new regulations would impact Semenya negatively in her participation as an athlete in the international arena.

“I call upon all South Africans to stand firm in opposing these Caster Semenya regulations as they are designed to disadvantage Caster in her career. South Africans and all progressive people of the world must unite and support Caster and all affected athletes in this regard,” she said.

Xasa said they would engage with relevant bodies to ensure that Semenya and other athletes, who are likely to be affected by the decision, were allowed to participate unhindered.

“Caster is not just an athlete to people of South Africa. She represents their hopes and aspirations. She is a pathfinder to the rural poor and downtrodden. She is an affirmation of black excellence.

She said Semenya broke a stereotype that nothing good will ever come from the rural villages.

She added that Semenya should be reassured that she was not alone and that the ministry supported her.

The ANC has also defended Semenya.

The party said the regulations infringed on the human rights of athletes, which they say mainly targeted those in East Europe, Asia and those on the African continent.

“The racial undertones of this cannot go unnoticed. The regulations are a painful reminder of our past where an unjust government specifically legislated laws for certain activists in society to stifle their fight against an unjust system,” spokesperson Pule Mabe said in a statement.

“The IAAF uses the same tactic to exclude those who have defined the past decade as champions and treasures of their home countries.”

The party called on the government to challenge the “grossly unfair, unjust and blatant racist attempt” by the IAAF in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The ANC Women’s League urged Xasa to challenge this “vicious attack” by the IAAF in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“The ANCWL stands by Caster Semenya and calls all South Africans to support her and many women facing homophobic attacks,” said secretary general Meokgo Matuba.

[source: News24]
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