Caster Semenya (Pic: Erik van Leeuwen)
A petition has been launched to counter comments made by British athlete Paula Radcliffe against South African LGBT track star Caster Semenya.
In an interview with BBC Radio, Radcliffe – the marathon world record-holder – spoke out against her fellow runner ahead of the Rio Olympic Games.
Radcliffe suggested that Semenya, who is the favourite to win the 800 meters at the Games, has an unfair advantage because of her alleged high testosterone levels; a condition known as hyperandrogenism.
“… it’s no longer sport and it’s no longer an open race. Obviously there is an issue and there is an issue that needs to be understood a lot better,” she said.
Radcliffe also appeared to imply that allowing Semenya to compete was like allowing state-sponsored doping in sport.
Radcliffe later clarified the comments in a statement, claiming that the interview had been edited and that “snippets taken and printed will entirely misrepresent what was said”.
She added: “I tried to get across how difficult and complicated the situation is and how finding a solution where nobody gets hurt is pretty much impossible.”
The petition, which dismisses her explanation, is addressed to Radcliffe’s sponsors, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and British Athletics.
Its creators accuse Radcliffe of “a cruel bullying campaign” against Semenya.
“We call on you, Paula Radcliffe’s sponsors, publishers and business partners, to demand Radcliffe makes a public statement apologising to Caster Semenya.
“Radcliffe should know better than anyone, that if the IAAF clears you to compete, that’s the end of the story. Finish and klaar.
“Caster Semenya is humbly focused on her running, and we stand by our champion and against bullies. We call on Ratcliffe’s sponsors, publishers and business partners to respect Semenya’s human rights and protect her bodily integrity and wellbeing,” reads the petition.
Semenya made global headlines in 2009 when she won the 800 metres at the Berlin Athletics World Championships and then became the subject of investigations, medical tests and brutal and humiliating speculation about her gender and sex.
The IAAF has never released the results of its tests but in July 2010 gave Semenya the all-clear to compete. She went on to win the silver medal in the 800m at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
In December last year, Semenya took her long-term relationship with fellow runner Violet Raseboya to the next level in a traditional ceremony that was described as both an engagement and a wedding.
Click here to sign the petition.