South Africa athletics chief avoids sack over Semenya

Athletics South Africa (ASA) President Leonard Chuene smiles during the arrival of South Africa's teenage 800 metres world champion Caster Semenya at the O.R. Tambo international airport in Johanneburg, August 25, 2009. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Athletics South Africa president Leonard Chuene will keep his job despite government calls for him to be fired for lying about gender tests made on runner Caster Semenya, SAPA news agency reported on Thursday.

SAPA said the athletics federation’s board had decided to keep Chuene in his post at a meeting to discuss the controversy surrounding whether gender tests were conducted on Semenya before her world championship 800 metres victory last month.

“The meeting unanimously expressed confidence in the current ASA leadership,” the agency quoted the federation as saying.

Chuene said last week that Semenya had undergone tests before the world championships in Berlin, something he had previously denied.

He said he had lied to protect the gold medallist’s privacy and said a team doctor had advised that she should be withdrawn from the August championships.

South Africa’s ruling ANC had said it was “disgusted” by the way international and South African athletics bodies had handled the case, while the sports ministry had called for Chuene to be fired.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) began a gender verification process ahead of the race in Berlin and, pending the outcome, allowed Semenya to participate in the 800 final.

The test results are expected in late November. The IAAF has declined to confirm or deny a report in Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper which said she had both male and female sexual characteristics.

Reporting by Gordon Bell; Editing by Sonia Oxley; To comment on this story: