By Riel Hauman
Three active athletes, among them South Africa's top marathon runner, Hendrick Ramaala, have been appointed onto the interim Athletics South Africa (ASA) Board under the chairmanship of Ray Mali. Mali has been appointed by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) to administer athletics for the foreseeable future.
The other two athletes on the Board are Geraldine Pillay and Blanche Moila. While the presence of someone with the stature of Ramaala has been widely welcomed, misgivings have been expressed about the appointment of Chuene cohorts Alex Skhosana and James Moloi.
The other members of the interim Board are James Evans, James Mokoka, Pieter Lourens and Daan Louw.
Mali chaired a Special General Meeting of provincial athletics bodies in Johannesburg last weekend. The meeting nominated 15 delegates to assist in the process, and from the nominated persons Mali selected nine delegates to serve on the interim Board (i.e., they were not elected by the meeting and there was no voting).
It is reported that an AGM will be held not later than May 2010. The Board will meet this weekend to decide about “operational matters” related to the 2010 fixtures and the country’s preparations for the Commonwealth Games and other international events.
In the meantime, the Associated Press has reported that the IAAF is working behind the scenes with Caster Semenya and the South African government “to resolve issues” around the athlete’s gender and eligibility. The world body said it cannot confirm the South African sports ministry's claims of a deal allowing Semenya to keep the 800-metre world title and prize money she won in August and maintain privacy over her gender-test results.
IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said the parties are "almost there" in concluding complex negotiations.
"It is premature to discuss the contents of what (the South African government) said until we're ready to say, yes, that we totally agree with it," Davies said. "This is being handled carefully at one level politically, but also in the medical-scientific realm.”
Davies did not want to comment on what progess has been made, and when an announcement about Semenya could be expected.
Although Semenya’s eligibility to compete was not resolved during the IAAF's council meeting last weekend, the council did agree to launch an investigation into recent "behavior and actions" by the leadership of ASA.
Australian newspapers reported in September that Semenya has male and female sexual organs, but the IAAF has refused to confirm or deny those claims.
Davies said the IAAF's investigation into ASA’s handling of the case would concentrate solely on the ASA's leadership in recent months.
"The relationship we have with our member (federation) means we also need to take action," Davies said. "That does not mean that ASA is suspended by the IAAF. The athletes won't be penalised ... and will still be able to compete."
Davies said the IAAF welcomed the International Olympic Committee's decision to hold a symposium aimed at drafting guidelines for dealing with ambiguous gender issues. The IAAF is helping to fund the conference, which will be held in January in Miami Beach, Florida.