September 16, 2009 / 2:48 PM / 10 years ago

South Africa athletics officials "humiliate" Semenya: report

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Runner Caster Semenya was subjected to humiliating tests in South Africa even before a gender row erupted over her world championship victory last month, a South African newspaper reported.

Caster Semenya of South Africa holds her national flag as she celebrate after the women's 800 metres final during the world athletics championships at the Olympic stadium in Berlin August 19 , 2009. REUTERS/Phil Noble

South African athletics officials have accused the IAAF, athletics’ world governing body, of creating controversy by ordering gender tests on Semenya, who crushed opponents in the women’s 800 meters at the world championships in Berlin.

“The tests took almost two hours and Semenya became frustrated and even angry over the humiliating nature of the tests,” Afrikaans daily Beeld quoted Athletics South Africa’s (ASA) former head coach Wilfred Daniels as saying of the tests carried out in South Africa.

Beeld said Semenya was “bitterly upset” when photographs of her private parts were taken during the examination, where a team doctor was present.

“Her feet were in stirrups when the photographs were taken,” Daniels said.

ASA President Leonard Chuene told Reuters he could not comment on the Beeld report because he had not seen it. He declined to say whether ASA officials had conducted a gender test on Semenya before the Berlin championships.

No decision is expected until late November but the IAAF has declined to confirm a report last week in Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper which said she had both male and female sexual characteristics.

Semenya was led to believe she would undergo drug tests in South Africa, Beeld said.

Semenya called and sent text messages to friends from the hospital to tell them about her ordeal, the newspaper said.

Some South Africans have accused the IAAF of racism for ordering the gender tests on Semenya, saying her broad shoulders and imposing musculature were common in women’s athletics.

FOCUS ON TRAINING

Retired American track and field star Carl Lewis blamed ASA officials for Semenya’s predicament, saying they had failed to protect her and deal with the issue.

“To put it out in front of the world like that, I am very disappointed in them because I feel that it is unfair to her,” he said during a visit to Tel Aviv this week. “Now, for the rest of her life she’ll be marked as ‘the one’.”

Semenya has said she is focusing on training, a local radio station reported Wednesday.

“She wants to avoid public scrutiny and instead focus on her training,” said Talk Radio 702.

“She refused to be recorded, saying her deep voice has been used by the media to fuel the gender controversy.”

South African President Jacob Zuma has decried the invasion of Semenya’s privacy and what he called the violation of her rights.

Daniels resigned last month over the way the Semenya matter has been handled by ASA.

“Do you think anybody can recover from the emotional hurt and humiliation she has undergone? What do you think will go through her head when she walks out on an athletics track after all her intimate details have been sent out to the world?”

Additional reporting by Marius Bosch; Editing by Charles Dick

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