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07 April 2010

Semenya will return to racing in June

Caster Semenya will wait for the results of her gender verification tests before returning to competitive running, saying that she will race on June 24 at a meet in Spain.

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Caster Semenya will wait for the results of her gender verification tests before returning to competitive running, saying that she will race on June 24 at a meet in Zaragoza, Spain.

The 800-meter world champion said in a statement that she had agreed to the request by Athletics South Africa to wait for the results of the tests, which are expected in June. Unless she is cleared by the IAAF, however, it is unlikely she will be allowed to run.

'Should compete'

Semenya said she still believed she should be allowed to compete, but had reflected on the events of the past week. She was prevented from running in a competition near Cape Town last Tuesday and responded by threatening legal action.

"I believe that the decision to bar me from competing in Stellenbosch last week was unlawful and wrongful," Semenya said in the statement. "I have, however, considered the request by Athletics South Africa (ASA) that I await the conclusion of the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) processes by the beginning of June this year before I return to competitive athletics."

Threats of legal action
The 19-year-old South African, whose lawyers had said they would file legal papers against ASA if they did not clear her to run, said she wanted confirmation from the IAAF that her situation would be clarified by the beginning of June.

"I welcome ASA's public statement that it will ensure that the IAAF is held to its undertaking to complete its processes by the beginning of June," Semenya said. "I trust that ASA will do the honorable thing and stick to its word in this regard.

"I have also instructed my legal representatives to seek confirmation by the IAAF that it will complete its processes by the beginning of June. I also trust that this will be forthcoming."
 

No comment from IAAF

IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said Tuesday that he could only reiterate the track body's official position on Semenya.

"No comment until the case is concluded," Davies said.

The Zaragoza meet organisers said they would abide by the IAAF's decision. The EAA Classic is not yet open for entries.

In a statement released first to The Associated Press later Tuesday, Semenya's lawyers said the lengthy IAAF process was causing the athlete "great harm and distress."
"Ms Semenya has done her utmost to cooperate with the IAAF to try to resolve this matter without resorting to formal proceedings," said Jeffrey Kessler, the head of Dewey and Lebouef's Litigation Department. "But (she) believes she is entitled to a definite schedule for a resolution of this matter so her basic rights and dignity are respected.

Harm and distress

"Caster has every right to compete in IAAF events. The current open-ended situation, with her status and eligibility the subject of constant speculation in the media, is causing great harm and distress, both to Caster and to all who believe in fair play in the sporting world."

Greg Nott, the head of the firm's South Africa office, said Semenya's lawyers had now contacted the IAAF to ask for a guarantee that a decision will be made in early June. Nott said Semenya needed "closure."

"Our firm has been in negotiations with the IAAF for many months to resolve this matter." Nott said. "We have now contacted them to confirm that a final decision will be made by early June so that Caster will finally be free to move on with her life and career."
Semenya had been expected to demand permission from ASA to run at a meet in Germiston, near Johannesburg, on Tuesday. ASA has upheld a request by the IAAF to not allow Semenya to run competitively until her "medical process" has been completed.

World championships

Semenya has not competed since she blew away the field to win the 800m gold medal at the world championships in Berlin last August.

Her dramatic improvement in times and muscular build led the IAAF to order gender tests. The IAAF has refused to confirm or deny Australian media reports that the tests indicate Semenya has both male and female sex organs.

Last week, Semenya's patience appeared to have run out when she appeared at a Yellow Pages Series event in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town, and requested permission to run.

An ASA official at the meet refused. Semenya's lawyers then said they would file legal action "soon" in a bid to get the teenager back on the track.

Semenya's camp has now apparently backed down. "Together with my coach and agent, I have therefore decided that I will return to competitive athletics at the EAA meeting to be held on 24 June in Zaragoza, Spain," Semenya said. "I reiterate that based on medical and legal advice, I am firmly of the view that there are no impediments to me racing in female athletics competitions." - (GERALD IMRAY/Sapa, April 2010)

 
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