Tuesday 15 October 2019

Caster Semenya accuses Sebastian Coe of 'opening old wounds' in strongly-worded statement

Caster Semenya
Caster Semenya
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Caster Semenya has accused Sebastian Coe of "opening old wounds" after his comments about the double Olympic champion in a newspaper article.

South African middle distance runner Semenya has challenged the International Association of Athletics Federation's (IAAF) bid to force her to take testosterone-lowering medication.

IAAF president Lord Coe told the Australian Daily Telegraph last weekend: "The reason we have gender classification is because if you didn't then no woman would ever win another title or another medal or break another record in our sport."

Semenya has hit back at Coe and world athletics' governing body by highlighting her suffering in a statement.

"The scars Ms Semenya has developed over the past decade run deep. She has endured and forged herself into a symbol of strength, hope and courage," read a statement released on behalf of Semenya and her legal team.

"Reading the comments of Mr. Coe this weekend opened those old wounds and the reference by the Daily Telegraph (Australia) to 'the muscle-packed Semenya' is just the latest illustration of how the issues have been distorted by innuendo."

A decision in the landmark dispute over testosterone limits for female athletes has been postponed until next month, the Court of Arbitration for Sport announced last week.

The IAAF wants to set a limit on the amount of testosterone female athletes can have in their blood stream, forcing those with high levels of the hormone to take medication to reduce their testosterone levels closer to the normal female range.

"Ms Semenya does not wish to undergo medical intervention to change who she is and how she was born. She wants to compete naturally," the statement added.

"Women with DSDs are born with rare genetic differences. These differences should be celebrated in sports like all other genetic variations that make elite events worth watching.

"Mr. Coe is wrong to think Ms Semenya is a threat to women's sport. Ms Semenya is a heroine and inspirational role model for young girls around the world who dream of achieving excellence in sport.

"Ms Semenya hopes and dreams that one day she can run free of judgement, free of discrimination and in a world where she is accepted for who she is."

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