Parliament slams 'Caster Semenya regulations'

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Parliament has joined South Africans in condemning what it has described as the discriminatory regulations passed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) allegedly targeted at South African athlete Caster Semenya.

In a statement on Sunday, presiding officers of Parliament, Speaker Baleka Mbete of the National Assembly and Chairperson Thandi Modise claimed that the new regulations were designed to stifle Semenya’s reign as a champion in the middle distance races.

“The targeted introduction of the regulations is unjust, sexist, dehumanising and should be condemned by all human rights proponents in the world. Physiques of African women have and continue to suffer unjustified and racially humiliating scrutiny and mockery. This must stop.”

Under rules announced on Thursday by world athletics' governing body, a separate female classification for an athlete with differences of sexual development (or DSDs) have been introduced.

Such athletes, including Semenya, will have to reduce and then maintain their testosterone levels to no greater than five-nanomoles of testosterone per litre of blood (5nmol/L) by November 1, 2018 if they want to compete in events ranging from 400 meters to a mile.

The IAAF believes its new rules will preserve fair and meaningful competition in the female classification because female athletes with high testosterone have an advantage of up to 9% over women with normal levels of testosterone.

But South Africa’s parliament’s presiding officers would have none of it.

“The act also threatens the entire generation of young girls from rural and disadvantaged backgrounds who are inspired by her to break the proverbial glass ceilings in their careers of choice,” Parliament said adding that the conduct of IAAF is a danger to the future of next generations of particularly African sportswomen.

The presiding officers called on sister Parliaments under international legislative bodies such as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Inter-Parliamentary Union to take a stand and reject what it described as “the IAAF's blatant old-fashioned prejudice, which has no scientific foundation.”

The international athletics body's actions were an open violation of human rights principles enunciated in the founding documents of the United Nations and, if not rejected, would continue systematically destroying individual athletes with impunity and bringing the entire global sports into disrepute, parliament said.

It indicated that it will also work with government and sports bodies in efforts aimed at supporting the double Olympic Gold medal winner and fighting the IAAF regulations. –


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