All-clear puts Semenya on track for return

CASTER SEMENYA has spoken of her delight at being able to return to the track after the International Association of Athletics Federations gave her the all-clear to resume her career.

The 19-year-old has not competed in 11 months following the furore over her gender that erupted with her victory in the 800 metres at last year’s World Championships in Berlin.

But yesterday’s statement from the governing body read: “The IAAF accepts the conclusion of a panel of medical experts that she can compete with immediate effect. Please note that the medical details of the case remain confidential and the IAAF will make no further comment on the matter.”

While Semenya has not confirmed when she will return to the track it is likely that the World Junior Championships in Canada in July and October’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi will be among her key targets.

Semenya said: “I am thrilled to enter the global athletics arena once again and look forward to competing with all the disputes behind me.”

The decision to allow the teenager to return to racing brings to end one of the most controversial stories in sport.

As recently as last month South African sports minister Makhenkesi Stofile called a news conference in Johannesburg which was set to reveal that Semenya had been cleared to return to the track, but that was cancelled after the IAAF said they were not in a position to reveal their decision.

The controversy over Semenya’s gender emerged after she lowered her personal best in the 800m by over four seconds at the African Junior Championships prior to the World Championships in Berlin.

Her time of one minute 56.72 seconds meant she had lowered her personal standard by seven seconds in just nine months. She went on to lower her personal best to 1:55.45 in Berlin.

Her performance in Mauritius prompted Athletics South Africa to carry out a gender test on Semenya before she departed for Germany.

The ASA president at the time, Leonard Chuene, denied that such a test had taken place, before admitting he had lied and being suspended along with the rest of the ASA board.

It was also later revealed that Chuene had ignored a request from the ASA team doctor to withdraw Semenya from the team for Berlin.

Greg Nott, Semenya’s lawyer, revealed that negotiations with the IAAF over the athlete’s return to action had been a protracted process, but reiterated the IAAF’s position that all details of the decision will remain confidential.

“Our direct negotiations with the IAAF representatives, through the mediator, have been ongoing for 10 months,” he said.

“Meetings have been held in Monaco, Istanbul and Paris, but due to the nature of the matter the parties resolved to keep the negotiations confidential.”

Another member of Semenya’s legal team, Jeffrey Kessler, said: “We are delighted that Caster is finally being permitted to compete with other women, as is her legal and natural right.

“Hopefully, this resolution will set a precedent so that no female athlete in the future will have to experience the long delays and public scrutiny which Caster has been forced to endure.”

UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee, who saw Britain’s Jenny Meadows finish third behind Semenya in Berlin, said: “I respect simply the verdict and the solution and the way forward that the IAAF gives us. If the IAAF says the girl is clear to run, she is clear to run and we have to find a way to beat her.”


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