Editorial

Swiss Court missed chance to bring sorry saga to a close for Caster Semenya

05 May 2019 - 00:00 By SUNDAY TIMES


For all the problems facing SA's justice system, it was sobering - and disappointing - to see that things are not necessarily better overseas. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland failed miserably in its judgment in the matter between Caster Semenya and the world governing body of athletics, the IAAF. The problem wasn't that the CAS found in favour of the IAAF, it's that it failed to find something resembling finality in the whole sorry saga.
The IAAF drew up its regulations for female eligibility using science that many scientists have said is faulty.
It was as if the two CAS judges who ruled against Semenya simply accepted the IAAF's postulations without considering the facts.
This was a landmark case and the CAS had the opportunity to make a definitive ruling. The judges would have done better if they'd told the IAAF to put its regulations on ice until it finds real science (assuming it can).Instead, Semenya is now the prejudiced one who must work out how to move forward. Her body produces more testosterone because of the male XY chromosomes, but we still don't know what "unfair" advantage she receives, if any.The decision discounts the hours of training Semenya puts in to be where she is. It's not as if she hangs out in the pub six days a week and totters around the track relying on her extra testosterone to win.The decision discounts the die-hard attitude that made her stick it out as a vulnerable 18-year-old despite what amounted to a global level of body-shaming after the IAAF had leaked her confidential medical information in 2009.The decision discounts her love for the sport, which helped her overcome her slump in form from 2013 until late into the 2015 season, during which she won no championships. Not once did she complain that she was somehow being treated unfairly.The CAS's decision has given no closure to this issue, though it has provided fodder for the social media trolls. So much for Swiss justice - they should stick to chocolate.

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