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September 9, 2009

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SA coach quits over Semenya sex-test lies

A SOUTH African track coach has resigned, saying on Monday that he and other officials failed a world champion runner by not telling her she was being subjected to tests to determine her sex.

Wilfred Daniels' comments contradicted statements from Athletics South Africa officials who have accused the IAAF, track and field's international governing body, of publicly humiliating world 800-meter champion Caster Semenya while denying any responsibility on their part. The South African officials have said tests were done only abroad, not in South Africa.

Athletics South Africa President Leonard Chuene said on Monday that Daniels' statements were "wild allegations." Both he and Daniels said they were still awaiting an IAAF ruling on Semenya's sex - and future as a runner.

The Athletics South Africa Website listed Daniels as a manager for middle distance - Semenya's specialty - for the team that went to the IAAF World Championships in Berlin in August.

Walk away

Daniels said he resigned last week from his post, which included supervising Semenya's personal coach and overseeing South Africa's performance at international meets. He said he agonized over the decision for weeks before deciding "there's only one way for me to deal with this, and that was to say sorry and walk away.

"Maybe it's time that other people came in and do what I was supposed to do," he said.

Daniels said he found out shortly before Semenya won the race at the international track championships in Germany last month that she had been tested in South Africa in July at the IAAF's behest. He said she was told she was undergoing only a doping test.

IAAF rules say such cases are to be handled confidentially. Instead, responding to media reports, the IAAF publicly acknowledged hours before the 800 final that questions had been raised about Semenya and that sex tests were initiated in response.

The IAAF has said Semenya is not accused of cheating by trying to mask her sex. She may have a biological condition that gives her an advantage over other women runners. That could result in her being banned from the sport.

Daniels said he did not know why Semenya was lied to, but said it could have been to protect her feelings at a time when the issue was confidential, as IAAF rules demand.


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