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SA wants athletics chief 'fired'

SA wants athletics chief 'fired'

South Africa's government has demanded that athletics chief Leonard Chuene be sacked after he admitted lying about runner Caster Semenya's gender tests.

Chuene had previously denied knowing that tests were carried out on the runner in South Africa before her 800m world title win in August.

He then expressed outrage when governing body the IAAF ordered its own tests after the Berlin championships.

Chuene, though, insisted: "I will face this head on. I won't jump ship."

SA deputy sports minister demanded Athletics South Africa "fire" Chuene.

"If they fail to do so, they run the risk of being led by a liar," said Gert Oosthuizen.

The statement added his ministry had been shocked when Chuene admitted lying about his knowledge of tests conducted on Semenya ahead of the athletics World Championships in Berlin last month.

Information from the confidential gender tests was leaked to the press ahead of the official publication of the results.

Oosthuizen said his department had twice requested a report from Chuene on events before, during and after Berlin, but had received nothing in return.

Chuene admitted on Saturday that he had lied to the South African public about his knowledge of the tests, conducted on Semenya in Pretoria on 7 August, but said the deception had been intended to protect Semenya's confidentiality.

"Mr Chuene has not only lied to us as the ministry, but to the whole country, and this is not acceptable," the statement contended.

"We are convinced that the perpetual denial of knowledge of these tests has fuelled the continuous violation of Ms Semenya's rights and dignity, by foreign and some local media.

"We are of the view that his lies were to Ms Semenya's detriment."

South Africa's official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, joined in the calls for Chuene to leave his post.

Democratic Alliance spokesman Donald Lee said Chuene had seriously damaged South Africa's image.

Chuene apologised for his actions on Saturday, admitting: "It was an error of judgement and I could have been more forthcoming with this information, even if it was difficult."

Semenya first burst on to the world stage in July when she ran one minute, 56.72 seconds for the 800m in Bambous, smashing her previous personal best by more than seven seconds.

Though South African officials insisted no gender tests were carried out within the country, it has emerged that the IAAF asked for Semenya to be withdrawn from the South African team for the World Championships following initial tests conducted locally, before the event.

However, Athletics South Africa insisted she should run and has since said it is certain she is female, a claim backed up by her family.

Chuene said he "was not going to stop her talent because of rumours" and said conclusive test results had not been available.

"On what basis should I have withdrawn her? My only crime committed was to take a decision that she must run, and she won."

Semenya won the world title in another personal best of 1:55.45, two seconds clear of defending champion Janeth Jepkosgei.

The IAAF ordered more tests following that victory, which BBC Sport understands are likely to show Semenya has an intersex status, exhibiting both male and female sex characteristics.

source: bbc

Posted on Sunday 20th September 2009

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