Author Topic: Anger over Semenya hermaphrodite claim  (Read 809 times)

Offline Dr Gonzo

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Anger over Semenya hermaphrodite claim
« on: September 11, 2009, 06:47:52 PM »
Anger over Semenya hermaphrodite claim
Eurosport - Fri, 11 Sep 16:16:00 2009

South Africa responded angrily to reports that tests on world champion runner Caster Semenya had found she was a hermaphrodite, with both male and female sexual characteristics.

Athletics' governing body declined to confirm the report in Australia's Daily Telegraph. The IAAF said medical experts were examining the results of gender tests on Semenya, who won the women's 800 metres at last month's World Championships in Berlin. No decision would be taken until late November.

South African President Jacob Zuma decried the invasion of Semenya's privacy and what he called the violation of her rights, although neither he nor Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile denied the report.

"I don't know why we should not respect the privilege between the doctor and the patient. Why, when the tests have been done, why was it published?" Zuma said.

The Telegraph report said tests had found Semenya had no womb or ovaries, but that she had internal testes, the male sexual organs which produce testosterone, and her levels of the hormone were three times that of a 'normal' female.

It said the IAAF was "ready to disqualify Semenya from future events and advise her to have immediate surgery because her condition carries grave health risks. They have also not ruled out stripping Semenya of her 800m world championships gold medal."

Stofile said his ministry had "noted with shock and disgust" media reports on the test results, which the South African government had not yet received.

"Caster's human rights are not respected at all. The humiliation she and her family suffered is still continuing," he said.

"We have already referred a team of lawyers to give advice to the young lady and her parents."

He added: "In the Australian reports, the results indicate that she is a hermaphrodite. For me that means nothing. The issue here is that this girl has undesirable levels of testosterone - what does it matter? That is neither here nor there. She does not have a womb - so what?"

Nick Davies, spokesman for the International Association of Athletics Federations, said media reports on the gender test results should not be considered as official statements by the sports body.

"The results are being checked by experts," Davies said.

"There is a Council on 21 November and this will be the opportunity to conclusively finalise a decision."

Some South Africans have accused the IAAF of racism for ordering the gender tests on Semenya, saying her broad shoulders and imposing musculature are common in women's athletics and she should not be singled out. She received a heroine's welcome on returning from Berlin.

The militant Youth League of South Africa's ruling African National Congress said in a statement: "Even if a test is done, the ANC YL will never accept the categorisation of Caster Semenya as a hermaphrodite, because in South Africa and the entire world of sanity, such does not exist."

It added: "The basic, traditional and known method to determine gender has classified Caster Semenya as female and to us she will remain a female."

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