Jon Swift
2 minute read
28 Apr 2018
9:15 am

The IAAF’s treatment of Caster is unconscionable and patently unfair

Jon Swift

It is, in short, a travesty of natural justice and a seemingly blind ignoring of the natural order. We are, quite simply, what we are.

Caster Semenya during the medal ceremony for the women's 1500m during the evening athletics session on day 7 of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Carrara Stadium on April 11, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia. Picture: Gallo Images

The ethereal concept of fairness in sport is far too subjective in reality to fully quantify … what is fair to one side is off the chart to another.

But surely the targeting of 800m World champion and Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Caster Semenya by a world athletics body seemingly determined to pigeonhole the 27-year-old from Polokwane as something approaching a freak cannot be either right or fair in any accepted sense of the word.

It is, in short, a travesty of natural justice and a seemingly blind ignoring of the natural order. We are, quite simply, what we are. The witch hunt is frighteningly akin to European basketball leagues banning some American imports because they are too tall. It is a dangerous path to embark on.

The International Association of Athletics Federations have embarked on an equally perilous route, setting its blinkered sights on the issue of hyperandrogenism – the presence of male characteristics in female athletes such as what are deemed elevated testosterone levels.

Because of Semenya’s near total dominance over the rest of the world’s 800m runners, she was thrown unfairly and, one would think, unwillingly into the spotlight.

The revision of the rules as envisioned by the IAAF do not extend to the long legal battle Indian sprinter Dutee Chand has waged with the authorities over the right to compete with a hormonal imbalance. She said she was relieved to have avoided falling under the regulations, which only cover distances between 400m and one mile.

But she criticised this week’s International Association of Athletics Federations ruling, which has been interpreted as targeting Semenya.

“I am happy and relieved after four years of uncertainty but I feel for athletes like Semenya. I strongly believe the current rules are also wrong,” Chand said from Hyderabad.

“I have offered Semenya my legal team if she needs. I have e-mailed her offering my support and help.”

As a human being with any feelings for the inner angst of others, what Chand has offered Semenya is substantially the way we should all feel for a young woman using her gifts to their best advantage.

Using Caster as a prop is unconscionable and patently unfair.

Jon Swift.

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