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Semenya shrugs off gender controversy

By Onochie Anibeze, in Berlin, Germany
New world 800m champion Caster Semenya has shrugged off the gender controversy shrouding her victory at the World Championships in Berlin.

SEMENYASemenya has been dogged by suspicion about her gender since emerging on the athletics scene three weeks ago.As a result, she has been asked by the International Association of Athletics Federations to undergo a gender test.

When asked to comment by reporters, the 18-year-old replied: “I don’t give a damn about it.”The IAAF first requested the teenager undergo a gender test after she posted a world leading time of 1 minute 56.72 seconds at the African junior championships in Bambous, Maruitius at the end of July.

Due to the speed of her rise from unknown competitor to eventual world champion, a gender test, which takes several weeks to complete, could not be done in time for the world championships.

The official IAAF policy document on gender verification states that one of the steps required for handling such cases is that “the athlete is referred to the investigating authority in confidence for further investigation and advice”.

The IAAF announced her undertaking of the test prior to her participation in the women’s 800m final in Berlin, a decision that has resulted in criticism of the sport’s governing body.

Former Olympic heptathlon gold medallist Denise Lewis described the treatment of Semenya as “absolutely dreadful”.
“It’s awful she had to compete with this hanging over her head,” said Lewis. “It should have been sorted out much, much sooner than this.”


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