South Africa’s Caster Semenya agrees to wait for results of gender tests before returning to race
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Tuesday, April 6th 2010, 12:11 PM
JOHANNESBURG – Caster Semenya intends to return to competition June 24 at a meet in Zaragoza, Spain, agreeing to wait for the results of her gender tests before coming back.
The 800-meter world champion said in a statement that Athletics South Africa requested she hold off until the test results, which are expected in June. Unless she is cleared by track and field’s international governing body it is unlikely she will be allowed to run.
Semenya said she still believes she should be allowed to compete but had reflected on the events of the past week. She was
prevented from running in a meet near Cape Town last Tuesday and threatened legal action.
“I believe that the decision to bar me from competing in Stellenbosch last week was unlawful and wrongful,” Semenya said. “I have, however, considered the request by Athletics South Africa that I await the conclusion of the International Association of Athletics Federations’ processes by the beginning of June this year before I return to competitive athletics.”
The 19-year-old South African 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.”
IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said Tuesday he could only reiterate the track body’s official position on Semenya: “No comment until the case is concluded,” he said.
The Zaragoza meet organizers 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 on Tuesday, Semenya’s lawyers said the protracted IAAF process was causing the runner “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,” lawyer Jeffrey Kessler said. “But (she) believes she is entitled to a definite schedule for a resolution of this matter so her basic rights and dignity are respected.”
“Caster has every right to compete in IAAF events,” he added. “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.”
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.
Semenya has not competed since she blew away the field to win the 800-meter 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 track 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 take legal action “soon” in a bid to get her 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.”
Semenya announces return to competitive running
STELLENBOSCH, South Africa – Caster Semenya is tired of waiting for track and field’s ruling body to release results of her gender tests and plans to return to competition.
What’s unclear is whether any meets will allow the world champion to run.
“I hereby publicly announce my return to athletics competitions,” Semenya said in a statement on Tuesday shortly after a meet in South Africa denied the 19-year-old’s request to run.
Semenya has not raced or spoken publicly since winning the women’s 800 at the world championships in Berlin in August, when her dramatic improvement in times and muscular build led the International Association of Athletics Federations to order gender tests.
The IAAF is still reviewing the results to determine Semenya’s eligibility. The organization has refused to confirm or deny Australian media reports that the tests indicate Semenya has both male and female sex organs.
Semenya has not been banned or suspended, but said Tuesday she had grudgingly committed to wait while the IAAF determined its stance on her eligibility. Now, however, the process has gone on too long and Semenya said her career and livelihood were being impacted.
“I am an athlete first and foremost and it is vital for my competitiveness, my well being and for my preparations for events during the European summer that I measure my performance against other athletes,” she said.
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.
Semenya was at the meet in Stellenbosch, but refused to talk about her situation.
“Why would I want to talk to media,” Semenya said. “I don’t want to talk to you.”
In the statement, Semenya said: “I have been subjected to unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being.”
Semenya’s lawyer later spoke to The Associated Press, however, saying there has been no agreement with the South African athletics federation for the runner to refrain from competing until the expected June release of her test results by the IAAF.
“We are not stopping her as lawyers,” Greg Nott said. “I think she would love to (compete before June). That’s for her to answer and her coach. She came ready to race tonight. This action today was about saying: ‘It’s time for the power to be given back to the athlete, which is Caster.’
“What we want is Athletics South Africa to come out in full support of the athlete, Caster. … Somebody’s got to give and we are pushing that.”
Meet organizer Richard Stander said Semenya was “not comfortable with” the situation surrounding her eligibility.
“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.”
Semenya said her legal advisers had tried to contact the IAAF three times, but didn’t get any response about when she could return to competition.
“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,” the South African said.
Patrick Magyar, organizer of the Weltklasse meet in Zurich and vice chairman of the elite Diamond League circuit, said he expected organizers 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 meet 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.”
Stander said Semenya had not been invited to Tuesday’s meet.
“The IAAF have got her under advisement from her medical team and until such a time as the IAAF tells us otherwise … we cannot invite her,” Stander said. “There are rules that we need to apply.”
Semenya sat in the VIP section at Stellenbosch and watched the competition, marking her first public appearance since she returned home from the world championships.
“I am of the firm view that there is no impediment to me competing in athletics competitions,” she said in the statement. “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.”
AP Sports Writers Chris Lehourites in London and Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this report.