TEL AVIV -- Retired American track and field star Carl Lewis is blaming South African athletics
authorities for the predicament of the nation's recent world champion, Caster Semenya, whose gender has been the subject of intense, worldwide scrutiny.
The IAAF, track and field's world governing body, said last week
that medical experts were examining the results of gender tests on
Semenya, who came out of nowhere to win the women's 800 meters at last month's world
championships in Berlin.
No announcement is expected until late November, and the IAAF
has declined to address Australian newspaper reports that allege Semenya has both male and
female reproductive systems.
Lewis said he was upset by the handling of the affair.
"Here is an 18-year-old young woman, because that's what
she feels she is, let down every step along the way . . . the
South African federation should have dealt with it and I think
the federation let her down," Lewis said on a visit to Tel Aviv
"It is your fault," he said, directing his comments at the South African
athletics federation. "She is your athlete in your country and
you didn't deal with this before.
"To put it out in front of the world like that, I am very
disappointed in them because I feel that it is unfair to her. Now, for the rest of her life she'll be marked as 'the
South African president Jacob Zuma has decried the invasion
of Semenya's privacy and what he called the violation of her
Some South Africans have accused the IAAF of racism for
ordering the gender tests on Semenya, saying her broad
shoulders and imposing musculature were common in women's
Lewis said he believed Semenya, who destroyed the field in
Berlin to win in 1 minute, 55.45 seconds -- a personal best and a national record -- should be allowed
to keep her gold medal.