By Riël Hauman
(c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Drama erupted before the fifth meeting in the Yellow Pages Series in Stellenbosch last night (Tuesday) when world 800-metre champion Caster Semenya turned up at the track in Coetzenburg Stadium, accompanied by her legal representative and coach, and demanded to be allowed to run. Semenya, who won the world title in Berlin in controversial circumstances, is currently under investigation by the IAAF because of doubts about her gender.

Although Semenya is not under suspension and is technically free to compete, Athletics South Africa (ASA) has been requested by the IAAF that she should not take part in any races while the world body is conducting its investigation. The athlete had previously agreed to this.

However, in a statement released by her yesterday (the day of the Stellenbosch meeting), she said she would return to competition this season. She said she had done nothing wrong and should be allowed to race.

“I hereby publicly announce my return to athletics competitions,” Semenya said. I am of the firm view that there is no impediment to me competing in athletics competitions. I will however continue to assist the IAAF with whatsoever they may require for their own processes and in this regard I have instructed my legal and medical team to work closely with, and continue negotiation with them for these purposes.”

She added: “I have been subjected to unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being. I had committed no wrongdoing, I begrudgingly committed to assist the IAAF in concluding its processes which I did not agree with.”

The IAAF is still reviewing the results of tests done on Semenya to determine her eligibility. It has refused to confirm or deny Australian media reports that the tests indicate Semenya has both male and female sexual organs.

Semenya said in her statement that her legal advisers had tried to contact the IAAF three times, but didn't get any response about when she can return to competition. “The result is that my athletic capabilities and earning potential are being severely compromised,” she said.

She added that she and her advisers “will work closely together to identify and prepare for a limited number of athletics meetings over the course of the coming athletics season.”

At the Stellenbosch meeting a representative of ASA pointed out to the athlete and her lawyer that she would not be allowed to run because of the IAAF investigation. The athlete and her lawyer “agreed, for now”.

Asked about Caster’s eligibility to compete, Ray Mali, acting administrator of ASA, said: “The IAAF have given the assurance of completing the medical process speedily and have requested that ASA abide by the world body's decision not to allow Semenya to participate in track and field events until the process has run its course.”

In the meet itself, Semenya’s co-world champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi won the 1500m in 3:47.02, and René Kalmer prevailed in the same distance on the women's side in 4:17.58




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