Suspended South African athletics president accused of ‘gross misconduct’ over Semenya

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chuene accused of ‘gross misconduct’ over Semenya

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — A report by South Africa’s Olympic committee accused suspended South African athletics president Leonard Chuene of “gross misconduct” and ignoring medical advice after he allowed Caster Semenya to compete at the 2009 world championships.

South Africa’s Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee said Chuene had “defied” medical advice that Semenya be withdrawn from the world championships in Berlin last August.

Athletics South Africa’s team doctor at the time, Harold Adams, told Chuene that Semenya should not compete in Germany “because it was going to create a psychological problem for her to run and be queried,” sports minister Makhenkesi Stofile told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.

“The report found that Mr. Chuene ignored that professional advice and went ahead,” Stofile said. “As such, they (SASCOC) accuse him (Chuene) of gross misconduct as well as bringing ASA and the sport of athletics and SASCOC into disrepute. He must face disciplinary hearings.”

Semenya underwent gender tests at the championships, where she won the 800-meter title, and did not compete again for 11 months.

She was cleared by the IAAF, the world athletics body, in July, but it said the “medical details” of her case would remain confidential.

Chuene was suspended along with ASA’s entire executive board last November after allegations of financial mismanagement and criticism of the way the national federation handled Semenya, who was then 18.

Chuene has also admitted to lying about gender tests performed on the teenage athlete in South Africa before the world championships. He said he hid the tests to protect Semenya’s privacy.

SASCOC has been in temporary charge of ASA since November, carrying out what it calls a forensic audit into the body’s finances and an investigation into the Semenya affair.

The report contained “various allegations” against the ASA board, Stofile said on Tuesday, including mismanagement of assets. But Stofile told members of parliament they had to wait for “due process” through the courts before SASCOC, which was not represented at the committee, could answer questions on its findings.

SASCOC laid charges against ASA officials last month, and a two-day disciplinary hearing begins Thursday.

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