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Athletics | SA Track & Field

Caster Semenya © Gallo Images

Semenya undergoes gender test

South Africa's 800m world championship finalist Caster Semenya is undergoing a gender verification test after her improved form this year raised an alarm with athletics officials, the IAAF said on Wednesday.

Semenya is eligible to compete in the final later on Wednesday as the complex medical process will not be completed until well after the August 15-23 championships.

"In the case of this athlete, following her breakthrough in the African junior championships, the rumours, the gossip was starting to build up," said International Association of Athletics Federations spokesman Nick Davies.

"The gender verification test is an extremely complex procedure," Davies added. "The situation today is that we do not have any conclusive evidence that she should not be allowed to run."

A group of doctors, including an endocrinologist, a gynaecologist, an internal medicine expert, an expert on gender and a psychologist have started the procedure but the date the results would be announced was not yet determined.

"It would be wrong today to take a decision to withdraw an athlete," Davies said.

The 18-year-old set a personal best for the 800m of one minute 56.72 seconds on July 31, which was eight seconds better than her time in 2008.

She was also the fastest qualifier for the final, running 1:58.66 her semi.

Davies said this was not a mandatory or compulsory test and the athlete was in no way suspected of cheating.

"This is a medical condition. It is nothing that she has done. There is a need to make sure rules are followed," Davies said, adding discretion and the protection of the athlete was paramount.

"We are more concerned for the person and not to make this as something that is humiliating," he said.


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