For IAAF to snub Caster is just not right

Pretoria News Weekend - - SPORT -

ONE WON­DERS just what Caster Se­menya needs to do to re­ceive recog­ni­tion from ath­let­ics’ global gov­ern­ing body.

She has all but con­quered the world in not only her spe­cial­ist 800m, but in other dis­tances from the 200m to the 3,000m.

Her world dom­i­na­tion in the twolap event that stretches over two years should, surely, have made her a shooin to at least make the three-woman short­list at this year’s IAAF Ath­lete of the Year Awards.

This is the sec­ond straight year Se­menya was named among the ini­tial nom­i­nees for the fe­male ath­lete of the year, only to miss out on the next round.

An­nual awards are by their very na­ture based on sub­jec­tive pro­cesses and there will al­ways be de­bates about who should be hon­oured.

The IAAF Coun­cil’s vote counted for 50 per­cent, while the IAAF Fam­ily’s votes and the pub­lic votes each counted for 25 per­cent of the re­sult.

Most of the votes be­longed to peo­ple that are sup­posed to know the sport which ul­ti­mately ex­poses the IAAF’s bias against Se­menya.

Ethiopian Al­maz Ayana, who won the award last year, once again made the cut along with Nafis­satou Thiam of Bel­gium and Greece’s Eka­terini Ste­fanidi. All three ath­letes oc­cu­pied the top po­si­tions in their re­spec­tive events with hep­tath­lete Thiam and pole-vaulter Ste­fanidi both mov­ing into fourth place on the all-time list in their re­spec­tive events.

The case for Se­menya is a strong one af­ter she raced to her third world title while adding an un­ex­pected 1,500m bronze medal against spe­cial­ist three­and-three-quar­ter ath­letes.

Se­menya raced to vic­tory in Lon­don clock­ing 1:55.16, post­ing her sixth na­tional 800m record and the fastest in the world for nine years.

She moved into eighth place on the world all-time list, be­com­ing the sec­ond fastest African ath­lete be­hind for­mer Kenyan world cham­pion Pamela Je­limo, who holds the con­ti­nen­tal record of 1:54.01. In her fi­nal cur­tain call of the sea­son, she set a new world 600m best of 1:21.77 at her home away from home, Ber­lin, in Au­gust’s World Chal­lenge.

One can­not help but feel that the cur­rent IAAF-funded study to prove fe­male ath­letes with nat­u­rally high lev­els of testos­terone have an ad­van­tage over their ri­vals, has some­thing to do with her be­ing snubbed.

The Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport (CAS) sus­pended an IAAF rule that en­forced a limit on nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring lev­els of testos­terone, cit­ing a lack of sci­en­tific ev­i­dence.

The on­go­ing saga and Se­menya’s omis­sion from the short­list may not be re­lated but the IAAF tend to avoid any fur­ther con­tro­versy af­ter their poor han­dling of the is­sue back in 2009.

Mean­while, Se­menya can do nothing but con­tinue to shine on the track and even­tu­ally it will be im­pos­si­ble not to give her the recog­ni­tion she de­serves.

Se­menya is edg­ing painstak­ingly close to Czech Jarmila Kra­tochvílová’s dust-cov­ered 800m world record of 1983. Wip­ing that time from the record books may see Caster fi­nally take her right­ful place by be­ing hon­oured among the best in the world. Don’t hold your breath, though.

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