31 March 2010

Semenya announces her return

Caster Semenya says she will return to competitive racing, despite being denied a chance to run at a meet in Stellenbosch because her gender verification tests are not out yet.

Caster Semenya says she will return to competitive racing this season, releasing a statement on the same day that she was denied a chance to run at a meet in South Africa because the results from her gender verification tests have not yet been released.

The 19-year-old Semenya, who has not raced or spoken publicly since she won the women's 800-meter race at the world championships in Berlin in August, said Tuesday that she has not done anything wrong and should be allowed to race.

"I hereby publicly announce my return to athletics competitions," Semenya said.

The IAAF is still reviewing the test results to determine the South African runner's eligibility. The organisation has refused to confirm or deny Australian media reports that the tests indicate Semenya has both male and female sex organs.

Although there is no ban or suspension preventing Semenya from competing, it is thought that she had agreed not to race until the IAAF releases its findings.

"I am of the firm view that there is no impediment to me competing in athletics competitions," Semenya said. "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."

Most sympathise with Caster

Earlier Tuesday, Semenya was denied a spot to race at a meet in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town, despite pleas from her coach and lawyer to let her compete. Although she was in Stellenbosch, she refused to talk about her situation.

"Why would I want to talk to media," Semenya told The Associated Press. "I don't want to talk to you."

Meet organiser Richard Stander said Semenya was "not comfortable with" the situation surrounding her eligibility, but he said she understood what was going on.

"Caster said she was not happy. She wants to participate. She wants to perform," Stander said, adding that the South African athletics federation has a plan to bring her back to competition as soon as possible. "She is a performer. ... She doesn't have the opportunity to do that at the moment."

Despite not being allowed to run Tuesday in Stellenbosh, Semenya sat in the VIP section and watched others compete. It is her first public appearance since she returned home from the world championships.

In the statement, Semenya said that her legal advisers had tried to contact the International Associations of Athletics Federations 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," Semenya said. It was unclear when Semenya would make her return.

"My coach, agent and I will work closely together to identify and prepare for a limited number of athletics meetings over the course of the coming athletics season," Semenya said. 

'The only victim is Caster'

Patrick Magyar, organiser of the Weltklasse meet in Zurich and vice chairman of the elite Diamond League circuit, said he expected organisers of the 14 events to follow the IAAF's lead. "I don't think any of the meeting directors will take any decision outside of the IAAF," Magyar said. "We don't have clearance (to let Semenya run). There has not been any discussion on it so far."

Jos Hermens, the meeting director for the Shanghai Grand Prix, said he could not say what his position on Semenya would be if she tried to enter that competition. "For me it's not of any urgency and I don't want to make any decision on that," Hermens said. "I can only look at the human side that it's terrible that this is happening to her.

"Whatever the outcome, the only victim is her."

Semenya said in the statement that she has done nothing wrong.

"I have been subjected to unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of  the most intimate and private details of my being," Semenya said. "I had committed no wrongdoing, I begrudgingly committed to assist the IAAF in concluding its processes which I did not agree with." - (Sapa, March 2010)




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