JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Caster Semenya’s coach says the 800-meter world champion is free to compete internationally despite an ongoing gender-test investigation.
Michael Seme said Wednesday that he does not have details but learned from Semenya’s lawyers that she can compete. Her lawyer, Greg Nott, was not immediately available to comment.
“She’s going to run in international events,” said Seme, adding that she would start at local events as a training exercise.
Semenya, who turned 19 last week, was never officially suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations, pending results of the gender tests.
“We are still in the same position as before — no official IAAF comment until we have finished the inquiry — and I can’t tell you how long the inquiry will take either,” IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said.
Hours before the 800 final in Berlin in August, the IAAF said it had ordered gender tests to be conducted because of Semenya’s muscular build and rapid improvement in times. Her future as a runner has been in doubt since.
“They are through with all those things,” Seme said.
Semenya was also tested in South Africa before the world championships. In September, Australian newspapers reported that Semenya has male and female sexual organs, but the IAAF has refused to confirm or deny those claims.
Semenya, who comes from a poor village in rural South Africa, first drew attention when she won the 800 title at the African junior championships last year, shaving more than eight seconds off her winning time from the Commonwealth Youth Games the previous year.
Semenya easily won the 800 world title in Berlin, beating the field by a large margin in a season’s best 1 minute, 55.45 seconds.
In November, the South African sports ministry said Semenya would be able to keep her gold medal from the worlds.
Besides the international intrigue created by the gender test, the case also entangled the president of the South African athletics federation, Leonard Chuene. In September, Chuene admitted he lied about his knowledge of gender tests performed on Semenya in South Africa before the world championships. He has since been suspended.
In an article published in November in British newspaper The Guardian, Semenya said she isn’t comfortable with the fame she has acquired since the worlds.
“People want to stare at me now. They want to touch me,” Semenya said. “I’m supposed to be famous but I don’t think I like it so much.”
The International Olympic Committee is organizing a medical symposium in Miami Beach, Fla., next week to draw up guidelines for dealing with “ambiguous” gender cases in sports in the wake of the Semenya controversy.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.