From the moment the news surfaced, just hours before the 800m final in the World Champs, I couldn't believe that this type of situation would be handled in such a way. I remember watching Nick Davies from the IAAF, clumsily and insensitively broadcasting to the world what a "complex and sensitive" issue this was. I couldn't help thinking (and so tweeting) at the time that this was unfolding in a hideously unfair way, given that Semenya was about to compete in the biggest race of her life and this was not something she could have foreseen or indeed done anything about.
The South African Athletics Federation have always said that she was a woman. Publicly. You would expect that a situation treated in the right way wouldn't require this kind of public protestation. Was their hand forced by the IAAF?
Since that point, Semenya did an amazing job to rise above the commotion and take the World Champs, in a years best time. Since then, the media and the hype has continued to unravel, as testing and consultation has taken place. Again, I rememeber that the news was saying that Semenya's test results are in, but that the IAAF would be consulting experts in various fields before announcing the results.
Well, it seemed like one very quick consultation (they must have taken advantage of the 1st hour's free exploratory session!) as before I'd even got chance to Tweet anything, colleagues in the office were telling me that the news is out - she's a hermaphrodite! Geez.
Let's write a label and stick it on her forehead, shall we?
Again, media whirl wind. What sex is she? What does this mean? What bathroom should she go in? Which race should she race in? Is she at an unfair advantage?
Damn, it's ridicululous that this couldn't have been resolved by the IAAF, the SA Athletics association and the athlete and her family behind the scenes, irrespective of her involvement in the World Champs, that was a rotten coinsidence.
And so what happens next? All parties hold their hands up, say "we've dealt with this very poorly", "we'll deal with this much better in the future", "we are going to help this innocent young person through this incredibly difficult, embarrasing and emotional time". Do they hell!
As the BBC reports,
"Meanwhile, South African sports minister Reverend Makhenkesi Stofile has reacted furiously to the idea Semenya would be banned, warning of a "third world war" if the row over her sex stops her competing.
"Neither Caster nor her family deserves this humiliation. None of them have done anything wrong. And we appeal that they be left alone," said Stofile."
There's two sentences that couldn't provide two more diverse reactions!
So, how about this?
We give the athlete and her family some space to deal with the mess that has been caused. The IAAF, in consultation with the SA Athletics Federation have some grown up discussions, with some more grown up people who know how to handle difficult and sensitive situations. They agree in a private forum how this impacts on Semenya's future involvement and how this effects the sport. They consult with the athlete and other athlete's, under strict privacy guidelines in a suitable forum. They announce the decision and get in with business.
We remove all rules regarding gender separation and drugs and allow anyone to take anything and put them all in to action together. Innovation would be immense, as the man with robot arms takes on Tiger Woods in the Masters, or special shark skin man whooping Michael Phelps in the pool. Now that would make for a great show! X-Men Olympics.