Friday, September 25, 2009

Caster Semenya lawyers fight back

Caster Semenya has begun her battle to restore her dignity. It is understood that Semenya's legal team has sent a letter to the International Association of Athletics Federations, asking the organisation to provide it with any medical records or records of her consent to invasive sex testing that it may have in its possession.

Semenya's lawyers also want details of the exact nature of the IAAF inquiry into her status in competition, as well as the results of the organisation's internal probe into how the athlete's confidential medical results were leaked to the media.

Greg Nott, the attorney leading the Dewey & LeBoeuf legal team who have taken on Semenya's cause on a pro bono basis, yesterday declined to comment on the letter.

Today Chuene was due to face the ASA council for the first time
"In the interest of our client, who has already endured so much, we do not wish to comment at this stage. We do not litigate this very sensitive issue through the media," he said.

IAAF sources yesterday confirmed that the organisation's legal team were in the process of responding to the letter.

While Semenya is fighting her battle, Athletics South Africa (ASA) president Leonard Chuene is fighting his own.

Today Chuene was due to face the ASA council for the first time since he admitted repeatedly lying about the Semenya gender debacle.

As he goes into the meeting, Chuene still enjoys the backing of a number of ASA member regions, despite the fact that certain senior ASA officials were considering legal action against him for his shoddy handling of the Semenya affair.

'We do not litigate this very sensitive issue through the media'
"In terms of our constitution, ASA is a Section 21 company, and its directors are liable to the Companies Act. If it is found that they didn't act within the best interests of the organisation, we may institute civil and/or criminal charges," said one regional leader.

High-placed sources from within ASA have told The Star that Chuene has the support of most inland regions, while the majority of coastal regions have been canvassing for his dismissal.

The regions that have been calling for Chuene's head include the Western and Eastern provinces, Griqualand West, Boland, Border, South Western and North West Cape. The Boland ASA body is listed as being headed by Dr Harold Adams, the medical professional who, after overseeing sex tests on her in Pretoria, urged Chuene not to let Semenya run.

It was unclear whether Adams, who has gone to ground since the Semenya scandal broke, will attend today's meeting.

Regions supporting Chuene are believed to include Limpopo, from where both he and Semenya hail, Free State, Mpumalanga and certain bodies in Gauteng and North West.

Apparently concerned by Chuene's connection to a number of ANC heavyweights, ASA regions in favour of his ousting are said to have demanded that today's gathering be a general meeting. This is because a council meeting would allow the board to invite "outsiders".

The anti-Chuene regions have also blamed the support he continues to enjoy on certain regions feeling they were indebted to him.

The cabinet yesterday expressed its disappointment in the way sports bodies at home and abroad had handled the Semenya issue, but spokesman Themba Maseko made it clear the government would leave Chuene's fate in their hands.

He said the cabinet had taken note of Deputy Sport Minister Gert Oosthuizen's call for Chuene to go. However, its view was that sports bodies should be given a chance to deal with the matter first.

"The cabinet is confident that they will deal with it satisfactorily - there is no need for the cabinet to take a stance (on Chuene's possible axing)," Maseko said.

He said the cabinet wanted sports bodies "to do all in their power to ensure that Semenya's rights are respected and that she and her family are provided with all the necessary support during this difficult time".