CAPE TOWN – South Africans from all walks of life, including former sprint champion Geraldine Pillay-Viret, have rallied behind Caster Semenya ahead of an IAAF ruling expected on Thursday with regards to hyperandrogenism.
A Daily Mail report on Wednesday stated that the world athletics governing body were set to make their ruling public on Thursday on whether female athletes who compete in the 400m, 800m, 1 500m and the mile – which appears to be deliberately targeting Semenya, who competes in the first three events – with higher than normal, naturally occurring levels of testosterone will be required to take medication to lower it.
Athletes who refuse to do so would reportedly be barred from running those middle distances, and someone like Semenya would have to move up to 5 000m and 10 000m.
The 27-year-old claimed gold in the 800m and 1 500m at the recent Commonwealth Games in Australia, but has said in recent months that she is considering taking on longer distances such as the 5 000m and 10 000m – perhaps due to the expected change in IAAF rules.
On Wednesday, though, Semenya posted two cryptic messages on her Twitter account in what appeared to be an attempt to hit back at the IAAF and critics.
“Your attitude is like a price tag, it shows how valuable you are”, which was followed by “How beautiful it is to stay silent when someone expects you to be enraged”.
Pillay-Viret expressed her outrage on Facebook: ” When will this ever end? Everytime Caster Mokgadi Semenya does well they want to run their mouths...only time they didn’t say anything was in 2012 when she got silver..#CasterSemenya #HandsOffCaster #IAAF”
In response to IOL Sport posting an earlier story from the Daily Mail about the IAAF ruling, @tebzamiss replied on Twitter: “Until when are you going to stop this harassment mara...leave Semenya alone”.
More support for Semenya came from @carlolinks: “@iaaforg bunch of sissies, sub coming too pressure form Europe and America..”
Semenya was also subjected to gender verification testing after she won 800m gold at the 2009 world championships.
She returned to the track and won silver medals at the 2011 world championships and 2012 London Olympics, both of which were upgraded to gold later after Russian winner Mariya Savinova was found guilty of doping and had her results erased from July 2010 onwards.
Now Semenya seems set for another unfortunate saga in her storied career, despite having never taken any illegal performance-enhancing substances.