STELLENBOSCH, South Africa (AP)—Caster Semenya intends to return to competition this season even though track and field’s ruling body has yet to release results from the runner’s gender tests.
South Africa's athlete Caster Semenya waves during her arrival at Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday Aug. 25, 2009. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
“I hereby publicly announce my return to athletics competitions,” Semenya said in a statement on Tuesday shortly after a meet in South Africa denied the 19-year-old world champion’s request to run.
Semenya has not raced or spoken publicly since winning the women’s 800 at the world championships in Berlin in August, when her dramatic improvement in times and muscular build led the International Association of Athletics Federations to order gender tests.
The IAAF is still reviewing the results to determine Semenya’s eligibility. The organization has refused to confirm or deny Australian media reports that the tests indicate Semenya has both male and female sex organs.
Semenya has not been banned or suspended, but said Tuesday she had committed to letting the IAAF determine its stance on her eligibility. Now, however, the process has gone on too long and Semenya said her career and livelihood were being impacted.
“I am an athlete first and foremost and it is vital for my competitiveness, my well being and for my preparations for events during the European summer that I measure my performance against other athletes,” she said.
Earlier Tuesday, 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 Semenya 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.”
In the statement, Semenya said: “I have been subjected to unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being.”
The South African said her legal advisers had tried to contact the IAAF three times, but didn’t get any response about when she could return to competition.
It was unclear when Semenya 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.
Patrick Magyar, organizer of the Weltklasse meet in Zurich and vice chairman of the elite Diamond League circuit, said he expected organizers 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 meet 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.”
Richard Stander, the chief executive of the local Boland Athletics association and meet organizer at Stellenbosch, said Semenya had not been invited to Tuesday’s meet.
“The IAAF have got her under advisement from her medical team and until such a time as the IAAF tells us otherwise … we cannot invite her,” Stander said. “Her coach spoke to me. And a member of her legal team. They are requesting for their athlete to participate and I said to them
exactly what I am saying to you. There are rules that we need to apply.”
Semenya, who stayed at the meet in Stellenbosch to watch others compete, said in the statement that she has done nothing wrong.
“I am of the firm view that there is no impediment to me competing in
athletics competitions,” she 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.”