IAAF Still in Talks Over Caster Semenya's Future

IAAF Still in Talks Over Caster Semenya's Future

Published November 23, 2009

MONACO (AP) -- The governing body of track and field is working behind the scenes with Caster Semenya and the South African government to resolve issues about the 18-year-old runner's gender and career.

The IAAF said Friday it cannot confirm the South African sports ministry's claims of a deal allowing Semenya to keep the 800-meter world title and prize money she won in August and maintain privacy over her gender-test results.

International Association of Athletics Federations spokesman Nick Davies said the parties are "almost there" in concluding complex negotiations.

"It is premature to discuss the contents of what (the South African government) said until we're ready to say, yes, that we totally agree with it," Davies said. "This is being handled carefully at one level politically, but also in the medical-scientific realm.

"Obviously, we are working flat-out quietly behind the scenes to resolve it. Fingers crossed, we will be able to get there very quickly."

The circumstances under which Semenya could resume her track career remain unclear.

Davies said questions would not be resolved during a two-day meeting of the IAAF's ruling council, which began Friday in Monaco. The council did agree to launch an investigation into recent "behavior and actions" by the leadership of Athletics South Africa.

The IAAF had been expected to confirm test results during the sessions, but said Wednesday the subject was off the agenda because of more medical testing.

"These people are being trusted to continue their work, and they were congratulated for the work they've been doing because it hasn't been at all easy," Davies said in a break from council meetings.

On Thursday, South Africa's sports ministry revealed an apparent deal that would allow Semenya to keep her gold medal and her medical records confidential.

Semenya won the women's 800 at the world championships in Berlin in August, clocking a season-best time of 1 minute, 55.45 seconds. The IAAF said hours before the race that it ordered gender tests to be conducted because of her muscular build and rapid improvement in times.

Australian newspapers reported in September that Semenya has male and female sexual organs, but the IAAF has refused to confirm or deny those claims.

In South Africa, the case has also entangled Athletics South Africa president Leonard Chuene. In September, Chuene admitted he lied about his knowledge of gender tests performed on Semenya in South Africa before the worlds. He has since been suspended.

Davies said the IAAF's investigation would concentrate solely on the ASA's leadership in recent months.

"The relationship we have with our member (federation) means we also need to take action," Davies said. "That does not mean that ASA is suspended by the IAAF. The athletes won't be penalized ... and will still be able to compete."

Davies said the IAAF welcomed the International Olympic Committee's decision to hold a symposium aimed at drafting guidelines for dealing with ambiguous gender issues.

The IAAF is helping to fund the conference, which will be held in January in Miami Beach, Fla.

Written by Graham Dunbar, Associated Press


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