Coach quits over treatment of runner
JOHANNESBURG -- A South African track coach has resigned, saying 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 told The Associated Press on Monday that Daniels' statements were "wild allegations." Both he and Daniels said Monday they were still awaiting an IAAF ruling on Semenya's sex -- and future as a runner.
The Athletics South Africa Web site 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.
He told the AP 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 world 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-meter 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 female 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.
But "when there's legal implications that an athlete could be barred from competing for life, we need to explain to the individual concerned, look, these are the implications," Daniels said.
He said Semenya would have been better prepared to deal with the media storm had she been told "this is what's going to happen, this is how gender verification tests are done, these are your rights," he said. "Those are the kind of issues that we didn't explain to her."
Daniels said he explained and apologized to Semenya over the weekend, and she took the news calmly. He said the poise she has shown since the case became public is "a lesson to us grown-ups on how to behave under difficult circumstances."
Daniels said IAAF rules stipulate the results be kept private, but that he was not sure that would happen.
"The IAAF violated their own procedures and protocols by putting this out in the public domain," he said.
IAAF President Lamine Diack has publicly acknowledged the affair was handled badly, telling reporters in Berlin last month: "I deeply regret that confidentiality was breached in this case and that the IAAF were forced into a position of having to confirm that gender testing was being carried out on this young athlete."
Chuene called on Daniels to prove his statements. Until then, Chuene said, "wild allegations will remain wild allegations."
Chuene said top South African track officials were meeting this weekend to determine their next step in Semenya's case. He would not say what options they were considering.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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