Semenya announces return to competitive running

2010-03-31 11:28

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 yesterday 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.”


Earlier yesterday, 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.”


Semenya’s lawyer later spoke to The AP, 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, and we want the IAAF to understand completely the

position where we are and the frustration of Caster. Somebody’s got to give and

we are pushing that.”


It was unclear from Semenya’s statement when she 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.


Meet organiser 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. “She is a performer.
... She doesn’t have the

opportunity to do that at the moment.”


Despite not being allowed to run yesterday 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.


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.”


–AP Sports Writers Chris Lehourites in London and Graham Dunbar in

Geneva contributed to this report.

 

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