Semenya to keep title as tests stay under wraps

The Sport and Recreation department of the South African Government announced yesterday that Caster Semenya would be allowed to keep the 800 metres gold medal she won at the athletics World Championships in Berlin in August, and also the $60,000 (£36,000) in prize-money that she earned. The $64,000 question remains, however. It is likely to be some while yet before the 18-year-old knows whether she will be free to chase any further gold.

It had been anticipated that Semenya's fate would be decided at a meeting of the International Association of Athletics Federations' council in Monaco this weekend, until the world governing body of track and field announced that there would be "no discussion" about the gender tests undertaken on the teenager and that the testing had "still to be completed". However, the Sport and Recreation Department said yesterday that "because Caster has been found to be innocent of any wrong" an agreement had been reached with the IAAF allowing the athlete to keep her world title and prize-money and that the results of the gender testing would be kept confidential.

"We have agreed with the IAAF that whatever scientific tests were conducted legally within the IAAF regulations will be treated as a confidential matter between patient and doctor," a statement said. "As such, there will be no public announcement of what the panel of scientists has found. Caster will make her own decision on her future."

The Australian Daily Telegraph claimed in September that tests had found Semenya to be a hermaphrodite, with both female and male characteristics. The IAAF has refused to comment on the assertion.

"We have asked the IAAF to apologise at the way the whole Caster Semenya saga was dealt with," the government statement added. "Their response is: 'It is deeply regrettable that information of a confidential nature entered the public domain.' The IAAF is adamant that the public discourse did not originate with them. It is our considered view that this chapter of blame-apportioning must now be closed."

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