Big names in sport show sup­port for Caster

Sunday Tribune - - SPORT - OCKERT DE VIL­LIERS ockert.dev­il­liers@inl.co.za

CASTER Se­menya, pic­tured, can rest safe in the knowl­edge she has an army of sup­port in her chal­lenge against the IAAF’S new fe­male el­i­gi­bil­ity rules which are set to go into ef­fect in Novem­ber.

Sev­eral aca­demics have added their sup­port to a grow­ing list of voices op­pos­ing the rules which look to reg­u­late the women who have nat­u­rally high lev­els of testos­terone.

Lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional speak­ers this past week showed their sol­i­dar­ity with Se­menya’s fight against the ath­let­ics Go­liath at a con­fer­ence at the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria, ad­dress­ing women’s el­i­gi­bil­ity in sport.

The line-up in­cluded in­ter­na­tional law ex­perts and other aca­demics in the field of so­ci­ol­ogy and gen­der stud­ies. It in­cluded Tony Ir­ish, vice-pres­i­dent of the Fed­er­a­tion of In­ter­na­tional Crick­eters, and pan­el­lists who ad­dressed the le­gal­ity of the reg­u­la­tions in coun­tries such as Canada and South Korea.

For­mer Se­menya ri­val turned vo­cif­er­ous ad­vo­cate Madeleine Pape of Aus­tralia gave a nu­anced view on the mat­ter both as a for­mer com­peti­tor and so­ci­ol­o­gist.

The IAAF in­tro­duced a new pol­icy in April at­tempt­ing to reg­u­late women who nat­u­rally pro­duce testos­terone lev­els above five nanomoles per litre of blood.

For now, the reg­u­la­tions are lim­ited to ath­letes who com­pete in events rang­ing from the 400m to the mile.

Law pro­fes­sor Steve Cor­nelius, who has been among the lead­ing dis­sent­ing voices against the rules, or­gan­ised the con­fer­ence and is as­sist­ing ASA in their le­gal chal­lenge.

Cor­nelius made head­lines when he re­signed from the IAAF dis­ci­plinary tri­bunal four months af­ter he was ap­pointed. He wrote a scathing let­ter to the ath­let­ics body’s pres­i­dent Se­bas­tian Coe, hit­ting out against the “an­ti­quated views of the ‘old’ scan­dal-hit IAAF.” Cor­nelius said the fight against the reg­u­la­tions held deeper im­pli­ca­tions for sport and so­ci­ety. “What­ever we see in sport is re­flected in so­ci­ety, and when peo­ple see it on the field they think it is aright.

“And we are go­ing to tell them it is not al­right. We must set the ex­am­ple on the sports field so that so­ci­ety can fol­low.”

Pape raced against Se­menya in the heats at the 2009 Ber­lin World Cham­pi­onships where the South African won the global ti­tle amidst a gen­der ver­i­fi­ca­tion storm.

Pape in­ter­viewed 65 ath­letes from the so-called global north on their views of the reg­u­la­tions, and pre­sented some of the anony­mous com­ments which high­lighted the di­vide. She said she had gone from an ath­lete “com­plicit in the dom­i­nant view of gen­der el­i­gi­bil­ity reg­u­la­tion in 2009 to some­one that now op­poses them”.

She said few of the ath­letes she in­ter­viewed grasped the com­plex­i­ties of the is­sue while few have been pro­vided with in­for­ma­tion about the reg­u­la­tions.

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