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  • Writer's pictureCharles Baloyi

ASA unmoved on Semenya's inclusion in Olympic prep squad

Athletics SA (ASA) president Aleck Skhosana has defended the federation’s decision to include Caster Semenya in their Olympic Games preparation squad. The Olympic Games will take place in Tokyo, Japan, next year with Semenya penciled in for the 800m event.

But the multiple Olympic gold medallist is in the middle of a long fight against World Athletics over her right to run. The poster girl of South African athletics lost her appeal against the Swiss Supreme Court in what has been a protracted battle about her naturally higher levels of testosterone and whether this gives her an unfair advantage. At this stage The Cobra (as she is affectionately known) remains ineligible to compete in her favourite two-lap event at major athletics events.

South Africa's golden girl Caster Semenya pictured in March 2015.

The then International Association of Athletics Federations introduced a ruling that prevents female athletes with high testosterone levels from competing in the 400m, 800m, and 1500m or be forced to be take medication that will lower their testosterone. It means that the defending Olympic 800m champion will not be able to add to her medal tally over the half mile distance as things stand.  

This has led her former coach Jean Verster to question the wisdom of ASA’s decision to include her in the squad. “Caster has a legal battle, and it does not serve in anybody’s interest for her to be in the team. They are putting unnecessary pressure on her as she is fighting a legal battle that she might not win in the 800m,” said Verster.

ASA President Aleck Skhosana (centre) pictured during the 2018 Liquid Telecom Grand Prix Series alongside (from left to right) Michael Meyer of Stillwater Sports, Henricho Bruintjies, Akani Simbine, Julius Yego & Ruswahl Samaai.

But Skhosana disagreed with Verster saying Semenya's inclusion in the team was the right thing to do. “We did not make any mistakes by naming her in the Olympic team. Caster is the 800m Olympic defending champion," he said. Skhosana revealed that Semenya would run the Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) meeting in Tshwane on Saturday, although he stopped just short of confirming the distance she will race. "She is doing another event that she is hoping to qualify for at the Olympics. If you want to find out about that event, you must come to see her run on Saturday. The event that she will be running at the weekend is the one that she will use as her second option in Japan. The last time I saw her running that event, she ran a good time,” said Skhosana.  

Meanwhile, Skhosana lost his vice-presidency and board member positions in the SA Sports Confederations and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) elections last Saturday. He received just 15 votes, to lose to newly elected Sascoc president Barry Hendricks, who got 81. Skhosana said he accepted his defeat and that he would like to shift his focus to athletics. “The Sascoc elections have come and gone, and I don’t want to dwell on them. I want to focus on the sport that I am serving. Let’s not talk about Sascoc,” he added.  

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