Semenya ambivalent on golden upgrades

South Africa's Caster Semenya celebrating after winning silver in the women's 800m final at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Aug 11, 2012.
South Africa's Caster Semenya celebrating after winning silver in the women's 800m final at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Aug 11, 2012.PHOTO: REUTERS

CAPE TOWN • South African athlete Caster Semenya is not excited about the prospect of having her 2012 Olympic and 2011 World Championships silver medals upgraded to gold in the wake of Mariya Savinova-Farnosova's doping ban, her coach said yesterday.

Savinova-Farnosova was stripped of her titles on Friday when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) imposed a four-year ban, saying there was "clear evidence" she used performance-enhancing drugs.

Semenya finished second behind the Russian at both competitions and is now set to become a double Olympic champion after her 800m victory in Rio de Janeiro last year.

"I spoke to her and we both agree - it's not the same," her coach Jean Verster told South African media yesterday. "We weren't there on the podium and there was no national anthem so it's kind of water under the bridge for us.

"It's not the same feeling as it was in the Rio Olympics last year.

"It is nice to know they are catching the cheats five years down the line, though, but it's nothing to get excited about for us."

Semenya, 26, has had to contend with controversy throughout her career.

After winning the 2009 world title as a 19-year-old, tests reportedly revealed that she is hyperandrogenous, resulting in her body producing an abnormally high amount of testosterone, which makes her more powerful than her rivals.

An International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rule limiting the amount of naturally occurring functional testosterone for female athletes appeared to have restricted her prospects but that rule was then quashed by the CAS.

Savinova is the latest in a growing list of Russian athletes to have past Olympic medals taken away over doping, as the nation struggles to overcome its most widespread doping scandal.

More than 100 athletes have so far tested positive in re-tests of samples taken during the London 2012 and Beijing 2008 Olympics conducted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Russia has the most positive re-tests per nation.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2017, with the headline 'Semenya ambivalent on golden upgrades'. Print Edition | Subscribe