The world is watching in anticipation as this brave woman takes on the international athletics body to fight to the bitter end, says the writer. File photo by Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP.
The world is watching in anticipation as this brave woman takes on the international athletics body to fight to the bitter end, says the writer. File photo by Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP.

Caster Semenya’s boldness to challenge the IAAF is admirable

By Opinion Time of article published Mar 7, 2021

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By Ofentse Morwane

Olympic Champion Caster Semenya’s chutzpah to challenge the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to allow her to fully compete again in athletics is not only admirable but indicative of a woman with a heart of a lion.

Recent developments that Semenya has launched a final bid and filed an application to the European court of human rights to overturn controversial World Athletics regulation which prevents her from competing internationally in races between 400m and a mile is encouraging and an indication that she is prepared to fight to the bitter end.

The decision by the IAAF that requires her to take testosterone reducing medication has tested her mettle to the latter, but clearly she remains steadfast and unwavering.

Undoubtedly, Semenya has endured immense scrutiny, humiliation and degrading treatment at the hands of the IAAF, but it is her true disposition that is now playing out. Her mental strength and stamina as an Olympic Champion is not tested on the track but on a bigger stage with the world watching in anticipation and eagerness.

The case lays bare the world’s perpetual failure to treat with respect the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) community. It would appear the international athletics body is not bothered by this downright discrimination based on sexual orientation.

It has been an extremely draining process that the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Champion is facing with vigour and vitality. However, she remains resolute and determined to exhaust all the avenues available to her.

Semenya’s sin, according to the international athletic body, relates to the differences in her sexual development as a woman athlete.

The case is around the legality of a 2018 IAAF eligibility regulation for women with differences in sex development. As such, she is accused of having unfair athletics abilities. Really?

Isn’t this something birth-related and natural that she did not bring unto herself?

The appeal rule is not only discriminatory and fundamentally flawed, but also borders on her basic human rights. Unlike other athletes who are often understandably disqualified, Semenya’s performance on the track is a natural act as she does not take any illegal substance to boost and enhance her performance.

Semenya’s case smacks of world politics. Her struggle in this saga should not be viewed in isolation. It represents the daily struggles endured by Africans in the different facets of their lives in the many encounters with their European counterparts.

Semenya’s gallant fight seeks to fight foreign domination that has consistently sought to control our economy and culture.

It is a valorous brawl characterised by courage and not fear to challenge international humiliation at the hands of European bigots who are at the helm of the internal athletics body.

The world is watching in anticipation as this brave woman takes on the international athletics body to fight to the bitter end.

*Ofentse Morwane is director of Corporate Communications at the Gauteng Department of Community Safety. He writes in his personal capacity.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Sunday Independent or IOL.

Sunday Independent

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