Semenya set for return to competitive action

CASTER Semenya, the 800 metres world champion at the centre of a gender verification row, will return to competitive athletics at an international meet in Zaragoza, Spain on 24 June.

The 19-year-old South African underwent gender verification tests after she won the women's 800m at the Berlin world championships last August and has not run competitively since. Athletics South Africa has made it clear Semenya is not banned from competition but said she must wait for the results of her tests from the International Association of Athletics Federations which are not expected until June.

The athlete attempted to run at a meet in Stellenbosch, South Africa on 30 March but was prevented from doing so by ASA.

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"I believe the decision to bar me from competing in Stellenbosch last week was unlawful and wrongful," Semenya said. "I have, however, considered the request by ASA that I await the conclusion of the IAAFs' processes by the beginning of June this year before I return to competitive athletics. I have also instructed my legal representatives to seek confirmation by the IAAF that it will complete its processes by the beginning of June. Together with my coach and agent, I have therefore decided that I will return to competitive athletics at the European Athletic Association (EAA) meet to be held on June 24 in Zaragoza, Spain."

Semenya added that, based on medical and legal advice she has received, there were no "impediments" to her competing in female athletics competitions.

The IAAF said that it would not make any comment on the athlete's statement until Semenya's case had been concluded.

ASA head administrator Ray Mali said he would personally pressurise the IAAF to make sure Semenya received her gender verification test results in June.