South Africa’s sports minister, Reverend Makhenkesi Stofile, has threatened a “third world war” should the International Association of Athletics Federations ban world champion Caster Semenya.
Stofile leapt to Semenya’s defence after allegations in the A
ustralian press this morning that the 18_year_old, who won the gold medal in the 800 metres in Berlin last month, was a hermaphrodite.
Asked what the South African reaction would be if the IAAF prevent Semenya from competing again, Stofile said: “I think it would be the third world war.
“We will go to the highest levels in contesting such a decision. I think it would be totally unfair and totally unjust.”
The IAAF commissioned a gender test on the teenager after her performance levels improved remarkably in the build_up to the competition in Germany.
Now the Sydney Daily Telegraph is claiming the tests have shown that Semenya has both male and female sexual characteristics.
Stofile denied the claim and also expressed his disgust at the way the news came out.
“What is disconcerting is that the pattern being followed in releasing these purported results is the same as the one being used when Ms Semenya’s humiliation started,” he added.
“We see the media being the ones breaking the story, while those close to the matter are pleading ignorance.
“Just like before, Caster’s human rights are not respected at all.
“The humiliation she and her family suffered is still continuing. We are even seeing the greed factor starting to outstrip genuine concerns for her rights and future well_being.
“Neither Caster nor her family deserves this humiliation. None of them have done anything wrong. And we appeal that they be left alone.
“To us Caster remains our heroine, and we strongly believe that our government and all well_meaning citizens should protect Ms Semenya, her rights and her interests.
“She needs a lot of professional assistance and advice. This way, she can pursue her studies and athletics career free of burdens and insecurity. This will give her peace of mind.
“On our part, we have referred the matter to our lawyers to see how best her rights and interests can be protected.”
South Africa’s athletics boss Leonard Chuene gave his full backing to Semenya.
“The IAAF has issued a statement that said the case will come before the executive council in November where it will be decided,” said Chuene, the Athletics South Africa (ASA) president.
“They told us this week that the tests are inconclusive and they could not give us the results just yet.
“So I really do not know where the Australia media got this