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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Track and field: Caster Semenya plans to race June 24 in Spain

AP Sports Writer

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."