JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s government received support on Sunday for its demand that the country’s top athletics official be axed after he admitted lying about gender tests conducted on 800-meter world champion Caster Semenya.

Athletics South Africa president Leonard Chuene apologized Saturday, saying he had lied to protect the 18-year-old’s privacy.

The sports ministry called on the ASA to fire Chuene.

"If they fail to do so, they run the risk of being led by a liar," Gert Oosthuizen, the deputy sports minister, said in a statement.

For once, the country’s main opposition was in agreement.

Democratic Alliance spokesman Donald Lee said Chuene had damaged South Africa’s image.

"Mr. Chuene’s immediate dismissal is the very least that needs to happen," he said in a statement.

Chuene was not immediately available for comment.

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