The Caster Semenya saga took another peculiar twist yesterday when a press conference that was expected to announce she had been cleared to compete again was cancelled under firm instruction from the IAAF, the sport's world governing body.
The South African Ministry of Sport and Recreation had been set to host the conference with sports minister Doctor Makhenkesi Stofile believed to be ready to announce the results of gender tests, so allowing the 19-year-old to make an immediate return to competition. Semenya was also to attend, although her lawyers said they had been given no indication as to what the minister's statement would be.
A statement from her lawyers said: "We have been advised that the press conference was cancelled by the minister because the IAAF has not received a formal briefing on this matter from the medical team. As such it is pre-emptive to make an announcement."
Semenya has not run since winning the World Championships 800m title in Berlin last summer. Her case has become a cause célèbre in South Africa with ANC, the ruling party, angrily denouncing the IAAF for their handling of the affair.
"The Caster Semenya case is being handled jointly by the IAAF and representatives for Semenya in a satisfactory way," said Nick Davies of the IAAF. "It is important to note though that the procedure has still not been completed and must therefore remain confidential. The IAAF will only issue an official statement at the end of the process. Until then, all parties should refrain from making statements that could only cause unnecessary confusion."