Semenya: 'I will race this year'

World 800m champion announces return despite no conclusion over gender dispute.

    Semenya was welcomed back to South Africa with her medal after the allegations surfaced [AFP]

    Women's world 800m champion Caster Semenya plans to compete this season even though athletics' governing body has not finished an investigation into her gender.

    South African Semenya underwent verification tests after winning gold at last August's world championships and has not competed since.

    "I hereby publicly announce my return to athletics competitions," the 19-year-old said in a statement on Tuesday, without giving a date.

    "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.

    "Given that I have not been disqualified nor suspended from athletics competitions and that I expected these processes to be expedited I, on my own volition, resolved not to compete in athletics competitions until these processes had been completed.

    "Unfortunately, these processes have dragged on for far too long with no reasonable certainty as to their end.

    "The result is that my athletic capabilities and earning potential are being severely compromised."

    Virtual unknown

    Semenya dominated the 800m event in the world championshipsin Berlin, taking the title despite coming into the event a virtual unknown.

    Her winning time of one minute 55.45 seconds was the fastest of 2009.

    But her muscular physique and gravelly voice drew questions about her gender.

    "These processes have dragged on for far too athletic capabilities and earning potential are being severely compromised"

    Caster Semenya, South African athlete

    Officials declined to let Semenya run at a local league meeting in Stellenbosch on Tuesday after the world champion, who was not entered for the event, turned up and asked for a place.

    "Caster asked if she could compete, which is her right," organiser of the local meeting in Stellenbosch, Richard Stander, told the Reuters news agency.

    "Unfortunately, there are IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) rules regarding eligibility of events and athletes that we have to abide by and that was explained to Caster.

    "Naturally she was upset but she accepted the decision."

    Stander is also an administrator for Athletics South Africa (ASA).

    Semenya's statement came after ASA announced they would abide by the IAAF's request not to allow the athlete to compete until the world body had concluded its investigation.

    Australia's Daily Telegraph, citing an unnamed source, reported last September that Semenya was a hermaphrodite with both male and female sexual organs.

    The IAAF has not confirmed the report. Semenya and family members say she is female, while the South African public and government also rallied behind the athlete.

    "I will 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," Semenya said in Tuesday's statement.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.