Lawyers for Caster Semenya said they would protect the world 800m champion’s right to compete as it was revealed the results of gender verification tests would not be received by the athlete until June.
Semenya underwent the tests after winning gold at the 2009 world championships and has not run competitively since. She released a statement on Tuesday saying she planned to race this season even though her case has yet to be resolved.
Athletics South Africa (ASA) spokesperson Richard Stander said the results of the tests would not be passed on to the 19-year-old until June.
“Caster is a disciplined athlete who is happy to abide by the rules. She is frustrated that she can’t compete and that is only natural,” he told Reuters.
“But the results of her gender test were only ever going to become available in June,” he added.
Semenya announced her plan to return to the track hours after ASA had said they would abide by the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) request not to allow the athlete to compete until the world body had concluded its investigation.
Her lawyer, Jeffrey L. Kessler of United States-based firm Dewey and LeBoeuf, said in an email to Reuters on Wednesday: “Apparently the ASA and IAAF have refused to permit Caster to race. We will take whatever steps are necessary to protect Caster’s right to compete without restriction.”
Officials had 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.
Stander said this was because of IAAF rules regarding eligibility of events and athletes.
‘She is not suspended’
“She has not been suspended,” Stander said. “If an athlete is suspended it goes on to their permanent record and a suspension can then become a ban. But there is no need to go there in this case. We are a long way from imposing a suspension.”
Semenya came to attention last year with her rapid improvement over 800 metres and her winning time in Berlin of one minute 55,45 seconds was the fastest of 2009.
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.
“The IAAF will have no comment until the process is complete,” IAAF spokesperson Nick Davies told Reuters via telephone from Monaco on Wednesday. — Reuters