Dale Williams
Dale Williams

Leonard Chuene’s real mistake

Athletics South Africa president Leonard Chuene fell into the classic trap of not thinking far enough ahead when he made the fateful decision not to withdraw Caster Semenya from the Berlin competition.

Most of the criticism and calls for his resignation have been from the emotional/human level, his failure as a CEO of Athletics SA and the misplaced racism calls lodged by the government without first finding out the facts (more on that another day).

I think the problem is much simpler. He suffered from something we all do at times which is, in the heat of the moment, to not think strategically. This is not rocket science.

If he had played out the scenarios in his mind at the point when team doctor Harold Adams gave him the results of the tests and recommended he withdraw Semenya, he would have come up with three scenarios.

The three scenarios are based on the two biggest uncertainties that he faced: whether or not Caster won and if the gender issue which he was sitting on was found out or not.

The “lucky break scenario”, in professional athletics, is so unlikely that it is not even worth considering, unless as one of my students astutely pointed out, Caster only won by a narrow margin in which case there might not have been so much controversy. Either way I don’t think any thinking person would have taken that risk.

If she didn’t win then the “doesn’t matter scenario” is unlikely to have caused much controversy. Then again, why enter someone in the athletics world champs unless you are going for a win.

Which brings us to scenario number one, the most likely and the one whose story has been written all over the world over the past weeks.

This five-minute exercise could have prevented all the commotion and embarrassment. A few minutes thinking about how the situation could have played out would have shown clearly what the right decision was. Then again the inability to think a little bit strategically is the nub of the problem.

  • vic

    Dale, often this story comes up.. of it only being an issue because she won.

    That is incorrect.

    Caster has been accused of being a Male several times during her career. The IAAF told ASA NOT to enter Caster at Berlin.

    They KNEW there was a problem.

    So did ASA….ASA by then had already been told there was a problem with Semenya.

    They cheated in order to get a medal.

  • http://brinewaterenergy.com Marius Grobler

    “…we all do at times…” and “classic trap” and “not thinking far enough ahead”. Yadda yadda! I thought this was the DUTY of any executive and especially the CEO to display vision and to lead…not so? If he finds it too hard to do then he is obviously not the right person. In any event, the question is not whether he lacks the vision to do his job (he lacks it) but the fact that he lied to parliament, the whole country and (for that matter) the whole world. Sack him! Enough said! BTW, his attempts to draw attention AWAY from Semenya has had the opposite effect. A failure, no?

  • http://WWW.SYNERGYMARKETING.CO.ZA COLIN SHEPHERD

    The whole saga around this sprinter is facinating.
    The debate is largely around the abuse of her rights, the imcompetence of ASA and the insensitivity of the International Federation.
    Perhaps the ASA the athlete and the Coach were involved in a deception? One does not want to mention the c…t word, but it seems to be the elephant in the room to me.

  • Jay Vincento

    ……. “I think the problem is much simpler. He suffered from something we all do at times which is, in the heat of the moment, to not think strategically….”

    What a crock of C**P!

    You are trying to defend the indefensible!

    He LIED – He CHEATED – He tried to play the race card – and you are defending these actions?

    How about falling into another classic trap and get South Africa banned by the rest of the world again for cheating – that is not rocket science either

    @ Marius …. “but the fact that he lied to parliament, the whole country and (for that matter) the whole world. Sack him! Enough said!”

  • Jon

    They, led by Chuene, cheated in order to get a medal. Absolutely right. But then they took it a step further and actually thought they could successfully serve the race dish by accompanying it it with a huge side-helping of tripe about Semenya being this “innocent girl” (at age 18?)

    Now THAT was a radical over-estimation of the power of the race card!

    Of course, it only fooled the usual suspects of fooldom: Winnie, Malema, Komphela…

    And it ran out of legs.

  • Don

    “He suffered from something we all do at times which is, in the heat of the moment, to not think strategically. This is not rocket science.”

    What a load of crap! My resonpse to it is, outrage, and you have the nerve to say to me it’s “from the emotional level.” Your damn right it is. But believe me it’s permeated with rationality. It’s not rocket science to see the extent of this man’s trail of deception.

  • Jon

    Pfft… what does it all matter anyway? Chuene didn’t lose his job or anything serious like that, did he?