ATHLETICS Panorama: NBC’s Masback says Swiss unlikely to overturn Semenya decision

Caster Semenya (RSA) winning the 800 m at the Pre Classic (Photo: Screenshot of the NBC telecast)

During Sunday’s Prefontaine Classic telecast on NBC, host Leigh Diffey asked analyst Craig Masback what he thought the outcome of Caster Semenya’s appeal of the IAAF’s female eligibility rules for the 400 m-to-the-mile events to the Swiss Federal Tribunal might be:

DIFFEY: “When you were studying your law degree, you did your thesis on the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, you lived in Switzerland, you know a lot about this topic; how do you see this playing out?”

MASBACK: “I think the most likely outcome is, given that arbitration is a big business in Switzerland, that the Swiss Supreme Court will not overturn the CAS ruling, which means that Semenya will have to follow the rules as set out by the IAAF.

“In Switzerland, they would have to find corruption or fraud, some kind of unfairness in the process to overturn the decision. They normally would never even get to the merits of the case, and the reason they wouldn’t want to overturn is it would undermine faith in Switzerland as a site for arbitrations.

“So, with this in mind, I mean, we might be witnessing the last 800 meters that Caster Semenya ever gets to run, and I’m told she’s asked for world-record pace, that’s why we’re talking about the world record.”

Semenya won in 1:55.70, and had her own take in her interview with NBC’s Lewis Johnson afterwards. Asked if she was trying for the world record, she said “No, not really. Flying to U.S., it’s not easy to run here. I’m still sleeping at home, so even for this race, a little sleepy. Yeah, but being able to run sub-1:56, 1:55, that’s good. So, it’s not a bad race, it’s just a bad time zone. You understand that as an athlete, you know, traveling out of Africa, you come here, you sleep at home, you feel blessed.”

Johnson also asked if this might her last run at 800 m; Semenya said: “Not really. I don’t think about that. I think in life, we have 50/50. IAAF, they want to win. I want to win, so it’s a legal battle. You cannot really tell what’s going to happen. At the end of the day, we will see if we go to court or what. But as for me, I am an athlete, I focus on my performance all of the time, so yeah, I’m quite happy with what I am doing at the moment. The forecast is great, so, yeah, we focus on what we can control, which is training and winning races. So, other things are just nonsense, so I’m not going to focus on the stupidity.”

Athletics International reported that Semenya said later, “If I’m not running 800 m, I’m not running World Championships. No 1,500 m, no nothing. I’m just going to take a vacation and then come back next year. I expect to be in Tokyo [2020]. I expect to be in Paris [2024]. I expect to be in Los Angeles [2028].”

Several athletes who starred at the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas early in June made their professional debuts at the Pre Classic, with mixed results:

Mondo Duplantis (ex-LSU): Won the men’s pole vault at 5.93 m (19-5 1/2)

Kahmari Montgomery (ex-Houston): Second in the men’s 400 m in 45.12.

Wil London (ex-Baylor): Fifth in the men’s 400 m in 45.57.

Cravon Gillespie (ex-Oregon): Fourth in the men’s 100 m in 10.05.

Sha’Carri Richardson (ex-LSU): Fourth in the women’s 100 m in 11.15.

Payton Otterdahl (ex-North Dakota State): Eighth in the men’s shot at 20.58 m (67-6 1/4)

Belgium’s Olympic and World Champion heptathlete Nafi Thiam injured her right elbow throwing the javelin while winning the Decastar in Talence (FRA). She said at the time, “I hurt my elbow six weeks ago but the doctor said it would be OK. I am afraid I’ve worsened the injury.”

She says now that she can’t move her elbow, “so we know that it’s serious.”

Qatar’s high jump hero Mutaz Essa Barshim returned to competition for the first time in almost a year at the Sopot Grand Prix in Poland on 23 June and won the high jump at 2.27 m (7-5 1/4).

He missed twice at 2.30 m (7-6 1/2) and once at 2.33 m (7-7 3/4). But he is back jumping and in a year where the world lead is only 2.31 m (7-7), he has ample opportunity to reach his gold-medal goals at the World Championships in his home country.

Eliud Kipchoge’s second attempt to run a marathon under two hours will be – probably – on 12 October in Vienna (AUT).

This is a second time trial event, this time called the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, and will be run on 9.6 km loops at the Prater, an enormous park in Vienna that was opened to the public in 1766.

If the weather is bad, the set-up has been reserved through the 20th.