Two days ago, I interrupted our countdown of the top sports stories of 2009 to comment on a report that Caster Semenya was to sue the IAAF and ASA for $120 million and $18 million respectively.
Today, reports in SA are suggesting that the report, which you can read here, is false. In fact, the latest reports quote Jeffrey Kessler, chairman of the law firm representing Semenya, as saying “I have no idea where this is coming from“. Another lawyer has labelled the report “nonsense”.
This quote can be juxtaposed alongside this quote, also attributed to Kessler in the initial report, where he is reported as saying: “Hopefully, the IAAF has learned from this experience (Pistorius) and we look forward to working with it to ensure a just outcome here for Ms. Semenya“.
“Creative” reporting? Downright fabrication of a story, right down to the quotes? Your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps the reporter has bent the facts in the name of a story, who knows? Perhaps the story is true, and the denial is coming because this kind of story should not go public – litigation proceedings are notoriously confidential, after all, and perhaps the lawyers are just denying their own leak?
Confused? So am I. But then, nothing about this Semenya story, since day 1, has been easy to understand. Before this latest allegation-denial sequence, we had the South African Ministry of Sport issuing a statement that the matter had been resolved, and that Semenya would keep her medal and look forward to competing, only for the IAAF to completely deny that this had happened. A swift retraction by Sport and Recreation South Africa followed, and we were no better off, only more unsure about what would happen next.
That follows on from leaks from the IAAF, ASA’s and the Minister’s denial, lies, attacks, hyperbole, journalists who publish confidential medical information, coaches who allege cover-ups and resign, reporters who obtain stories under false pretenses – this story has had it all.
Will there ever be resolution to this story? I doubt it. From a sports point of view (which is relatively minor, I dare say, but my main interest), the ‘closure’ may have to come in June next year, when we find out whether Semenya is or is not running in the European season. Before that, there is the local athletics season, which starts up in mid-January. Will Semenya feature? In 2010 or 2011? Who knows?
Seriously, you couldn’t make this stuff up. Then again, maybe you can, and maybe some have…