16 Jun 2019

Caster Semenya denies declining invite to race at Diamond League in Morocco

10:09 am on 16 June 2019

Caster Semenya has denied declining to race at Sunday's Diamond League Meeting in Morocco, instead claiming organisers "made it impossible for her" to run.

South African athlete Caster Semenya.

Caster Semenya (file photo) Photo: Photosport

On Tuesday, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court suspended new IAAF rules curbing testosterone levels in female athletes.

The South African said she accepted an invitation and booked her flights.

But her lawyers said the Royal Moroccan Athletics Federation athlete liaison, Alain Blondel, then told her agent its president "did not want Caster to run".

Previously, Blondel had said Semenya "received an invitation but is unable to organise her schedule to come to Rabat".

Semenya tweeted on Saturday: "How now you say I declined your invitation?"

In a statement, Semenya's lawyers said: "Different from what the athletes' liaison for the Moroccan Athletics Federation, Alain Blondel, has suggested, Caster Semenya did not decline an invitation to run the 800m in Rabat.

"The Federation made it impossible for her to participate."

Her legal team said she accepted an invitation from the federation to run and "was booked to fly from Paris to Rabat on 12 June".

But the day before her travel, "Alain Blondel suddenly informed Caster's agent that the president of the Royal Moroccan Athletics Federation did not want Caster to run," the lawyers' statement said.

"Frustrated by this unjustified and belated rejection, Caster had no choice but to return to South Africa.

"On 13 June her lawyers requested from the federation the reasons for the rejection and followed up by telephone multiple times on 14 June without receiving an answer.

"On 14 June, the federation changed course once again and told Caster's agent that Caster was re-invited to run on 16 June.

"At that time, the only flights to Rabat would have involved 20 hours of travel, which meant that competing in the event was not rationally possible for Caster," the statement added.

"Against this background, Caster rejects any suggestion that she declined a proper invitation to run in Rabat.

"To the contrary, her inability to run in Rabat is solely due to the Moroccan Federation's sudden and unjustified withdrawal of its initial invitation that Caster had gladly accepted."

Semenya has an ongoing legal appeal against the IAAF's new rules that she and other athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) must either take medication in order to compete in track events from 400m to the mile or change to another distance.

Diamond League meetings are not organised by the sport's governing body, the IAAF, with those in charge of individual events responsible for who they invite.

Despite the continuing legal wrangling, the double Olympic champion has been named in South Africa's preliminary squad for the World Championships in Qatar, to run from 27 September to 6 October.


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