Africa to debate whether the IAAF's proposed rules just a ploy to target the continent's athletes

20 March 2019 - 09:28 By Mahlatse Mphahlele
World 800m champion Caster Semenya.
World 800m champion Caster Semenya.
Image: Caster Semenya via Facebook

Are the proposed International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rules just a ploy to target athletes on the African continent?

This question will be very high on the agenda and will be debated at the 28th congress of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) to be held in Ivory Coast next month.

In recent months the IAAF has proposed a number of drastic regulations that appear to target African athletes and tough-talking Athletics South Africa (ASA) president Aleck Skhosana said the time has come for the CAA to thoroughly interrogate the burning issue.

“We are going to have to deal with this issue at the CAA congress in Côte d’Ivoire where all the nations are going to attend‚” he said.

The athletics world is waiting for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to deliver a decision in the controversial case between the IAAF and South African Olympic champion Caster Semenya.

The Olympic 800m champion went before CAS in Switzerland last month to challenge proposed IAAF rules that would force her to lower her testosterone levels.

The widely criticised rules would force "hyperandrogenic" athletes or those with "differences of sexual development" (DSD) to medically lower their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount.

The IAAF wants to introduce the rule changes to promote what it says will be fairer competition between all female athletes.

The CAS decision is expected next week.

In another equally controversial plan‚ the IAAF recently announced radical proposals to cut Diamond League meeting lengths to 90 minutes and to scrap 5‚000 and 10‚000 races where mostly East African athletes have excelled over the years.

“We must be able to debate this issue and ask ourselves where does it come from and what are the intentions‚" said Skhosana.

"Who is behind it?

"Why are they only targeting some events and we must be able to take a firm stance.

"In this important item of 5‚000m and 10‚ 000 being scrapped out of the Diamond League in 2020‚ we have already written a letter to IAAF to make our feelings known to them that we don’t support that proposal.

"This issue will be a debating point at the CAA congress that is taking place in April in Ivory Coast.”

Skhosana added that the relationship between ASA and the IAAF is good but they reserve their right to disagree with the controlling body on issues that they feel strongly about.

“The relationship between us is solid‚" he said.

"They have their own responsibilities and we have our own responsibilities.

"There are things that we strongly disagree with them on.

"There are rules in the constitution that say if you disagree you can go to the arbiter and they deal with those issues.

"You can remember the issue with Oscar Pistorius in 2007.

"Our relations are not strained.

"Sometimes we disagree and sometime we agree and that is how it is.”

X