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20 August 2009

IAAF tests Semenya's gender

South Africa's women's 800 metres champion Caster Semenya is to have her gender verified, the sport's governing body the IAAF announced on Wednesday.

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South Africa's women's 800 metres champion Caster Semenya is to have her gender verified, the sport's governing body the IAAF announced on Wednesday.

"The gender verification test is an extremely complex procedure," said IAAF spokesman Nick Davies.

Davies reveal that the question had first been raised after Semenya's astonishing performances at the African junior championships. "In the case of this athlete, following her breakthrough in the African junior championships, the rumours, the gossip were starting to build up," said Davies.

Semenya has already been involved in a controversial incident at the championships. During the 800m heats, she became entangled with defending champion Janeth Jepkosgei on the final bend and brought down the Kenyan. Semenya managed to just about keep on her feet, showed great composure and ran out an easy winner.

Case of Stella Walsh
There have been precedents in such cases, the most famous being that of Polish athletics great Stella Walsh (also known as Stanislawa Walasiewicz) who won Olympic gold at the 1932 Olympics and silver in the 1936 Olympics here in Berlin.

However, after she was shot dead during an armed robbery in 1980, the subsequent autopsy revealed she possessed male genitalia, although she also had female characteristics as well. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have now dropped gender determination tests. - (Pirate Irwin/Sapa, August 2009)

Read more:
She/he controversy

 
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