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September 20, 2009

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Home » Sports » Athletics

S. Africa track boss apologizes

SOUTH Africa's top track official apologized yesterday for denying knowledge of gender tests done on champion runner Caster Semenya in South Africa, saying he lied to protect the athlete's privacy.

Athletics South Africa President Leonard Chuene told reporters in Johannesburg that his constant denials of the tests were an "error of judgment" and that he never meant to "deceive" the public.

South African officials have repeatedly said tests were done on the 18-year-old runner only abroad, not in South Africa.

"I can no longer stand before you and say that I am not aware of gender tests conducted on Caster Semenya," Chuene said. "I felt that at the time I was acting in the best interests of Caster Semenya as a person."

Semenya won the 800-meter race at the world championships in Berlin in one minute, 55.45 seconds to finish 2.45 seconds ahead of her closest competitor on August 19. It was the fastest time in the world this year.

The International Association of Athletics Federations ordered tests done on the runner in Berlin, saying questions had been raised about her muscular physique, running style and recent stunning improvement in times.

It has refused to confirm or deny Australian media reports that Semenya has both male and female characteristics.

Chuene said tests had been done at a Pretoria hospital on August 7 at the behest of the IAAF.


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