Sascoc boss breaks silence on Caster Semenya matter
After the European Court of Human Rights' indication that it would only hear Caster Semenya's case against World Athletics (formerly the International Association of Athletics Federation) next year, SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) President Barry Hendricks has broken his silence on the matter. Hendricks said he could not imagine the Olympic Games without South Africa's golden girl.
With World Athletics having ruled that Semenya's naturally higher levels of testosterone give her unfair advantage it means that as things stand, the double Olympic champion will have to compete in the 5 000m should she want to be named in Team SA. “It is disappointing that Caster would not be able to perform in her favourite event. We know that now because the European court commission has now indicated that they will only hear her case next year. We are disappointed because we thought in our minds that her special events that she was going to run were going to get gold," said a gutted Hendricks.
The 28-year-old saw two court cases against the sport's global governing body fail at both the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Swiss Supreme Court fail, in what has been a protracted battle about her right to race the 400m, 800m or 1500m. Now The Cobra has approached the European Court of Human Rights in a bid to have World Athletics' regulations overturned.
Hendricks said it would be a sad day for South African sport if the final Olympic team does not include the poster girl of South African athletics when the big announcement is made at Olympic House in Rosebank in July. The man who was elected Sascoc president in November last year, was relying on Semenya's 800m and 1500m races to produce two gold medals and vowed that Sascoc would continue to support Semenya in her fight to run the 800m no matter how long it takes. “We will work with her and her team to get justice and achieve success in her court application. We still support her in her fight and we will do everything in our power to help her win her court case," said Hendricks.
Semenya is not the only medal contender that could be missing in Tokyo. Olympic silver medalist Luvo Manyonga was also an athlete that Hendricks was looking to deliver a medal for the country. But the Athletics Integrity Unit suspended the celebrated long jump star in Januray after he went MIA on a drug binge that left him unable to provide his doping whereabouts. The lanky, long jumper will miss the Games in the land of the Rising Sun in four months.
According to his former agent Lee-Roy Newton, Manyonga relapsed and he needs help to kick out his drug addiction. Hendricks says this has robbed the nation of three possible medals at the Olympics. “We work through with the national federation in this case. We sympathize we the relapse. However, we are working with ASA to try and bring this youngster back to the sand-pit. We lost another possible gold medal in him,” added Hendricks who refused to put a target of how many medals Team SA will bring back from Japan.