JOHANNESBURG – South Africa's athletics chief got a vote of confidence Thursday that means he will keep his job for now even though he admitted to lying about his role in gender tests done on champion runner Caster Semenya.
After meeting for several hours Thursday, the council of Athletics South Africa released a brief statement saying it "unanimously expressed confidence in the current ASA leadership."
In a brief interview with The Associated Press after the meeting, Chris Britz, a member of ASA's decision-making board to which the council reports, said: "Mr. Chuene is the president of Athletics South Africa. I can confirm that."
For days, politicians, newspaper editorials and other sports bodies have called for Chuene to be fired following his admission at a news conference Saturday that he had lied when he repeatedly denied knowing that gender tests had been done on Semenya in South Africa. Chuene later said he lied to protect the athlete's privacy.
Chuene refused to comment on Thursday's meeting to AP, saying the ASA council had told him only Britz could speak on the matter.
Track officials could find themselves overruled by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, which is conducting its own investigation into the Semenya case. Thursday's statement from Athletics South Africa said the group would "fully cooperate with any statutory commission of enquiry" on the matter.
ASA members who took part in the meeting refused to speak to reporters afterward. Three cars leaving the meeting place, a hotel near Johannesburg's airport, displayed computer-printed signs declaring "100 percent Chuene" and "hands off our president."
Semenya won the 800-meters at the world championships in Berlin in August. The International Association of Athletics Federations said before the final that they had ordered gender tests because questions had been raised about her muscular physique and stunning improvement in times. Such matters are usually kept confidential, and the IAAF has been criticized in South Africa and abroad for going public in Semenya's case.
The IAAF has refused to confirm or deny Australian media reports that Semenya has both male and female characteristics, saying it is reviewing test results and will issue a decision in November on whether she will be allowed to continue to compete in women's events.