Ockert de Villiers.

The latest storm around the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) amended policy governing the eligibility of female athletes with Difference of Sexual Differences (DSDs) had brought severe feelings of déjà vu.

Nine years ago, Caster Semenya was unfairly thrust into the glare of the world when her private medical information was leaked, unleashing a gender verification storm.

The injustice is perpetuated as we automatically link Semenya’s name to anything to do with hyperandrogenism.

The new guidelines claim that women who produce a higher level of testosterone than the so-called norm have an unfair advantage.

The IAAF relies largely on research it commissioned in July 2017 after its previous rules on hyperandrogenism were suspended by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), due to a lack of evidence that elevated levels of testosterone gave women a competitive edge.

Semenya has once again been made the focal point of the whole sorry debacle, and she has consistently distanced herself from any questions regarding the IAAF regulations.

This is the same Semenya who has multiple Oylmpic and World Championship medals.

It is time that we divorce Semenya from the issue and look at the merits of the case.

There has been a general hysterical response from both sides of the spectrum to the whole issue.

This week, academic Steve Cornelius made headlines when it emerged he had resigned from the IAAF’s disciplinary tribunal, after condemning the female classification rules.

Cornelius’ resignation letter addressed to IAAF president Sebastian Coe went viral, hitting out against the “antiquated views of the ‘old’ scandal-hit IAAF”.

“On deep moral grounds, I cannot see myself part of a system in which I may be called upon to apply regulations which I deem to be fundamentally flawed, and most likely unlawful in various jurisdictions around the globe,” Cornelius wrote.

“It would also be unethical for me to devote time and energy to expose the warped ideology behind the new regulations while serving on the disciplinary tribunal.”

Caster Semenya celebrates after winning the 800m final at the Commonwealth Games. Photo: Mark Schiefelbein/AP

Cornelius has been a rare example of a man taking a principled stand against a giant of international sport.

It is refreshing to see someone being guided by their moral compass and not toeing the line.

Sadly, this is no longer the norm and is one of the reasons why his story spread like wildfire.

Cornelius was a wanted man throughout the week, with international media outlets queuing to speak to him, with the academic conducting over 50 interviews in the past few days.

“In my opinion, it is unlawful, definitely in South Africa because it discriminates against women. That is just one point, and it would be unlawful in Europe for the same reason,” Cornelius said.

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We need more voices like Cornelius’, which can help us understand the complexities of all the issues.

I suspect we will never find the right solution that would see everyone walk away satisfied with the outcome.

Debating the facts and relying on expertise from different sections of society is a far more mature way of dealing with something that needs to be dealt with in a sensitive way.

It is something that has been seriously lacking over the past nine years, and it is time we move away from opinions that are yelled through a megaphone.

We owe it to the athletes on both sides who feel may feel victimised.

 

Saturday Star