IAAF can’t decide sex of 880m champ Caster Semenya

Medium close up of Caster Semenya, the South African sprinter who says she's a woman. The International Association of Athletics Federations isn't sure, so they're forbidding her from competing until they can verify her gender. It's been eight months since they began gender verification tests, in case you're keeping track.

Caster Semenya, waiting for the IAAF green light on female or male racing status. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Back in August 2009, South African runner Caster Semenya captured the Women’s 800m world record at the Berlin World Championships. Once the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) raised the question of whether Caster Semenya was a woman or a man and initial findings suggested that Caster may be a hermaphrodite, she was forbidden from competition until gender verification tests could produce a sound conclusion. That conclusion has yet to be made nearly eight months later, and Caster Semenya is tired of waiting to race again. Payday loans may not be an option in South Africa. How’s she supposed to make a living?

Caster Semenya says she is a woman

A month after the IAAF snafu, Caster Semenya posed for a glamorous cover story in YOU magazine. She’s comfortable with her womanhood, but the IAAF governing body still isn’t convinced. Semenya says that their investigation has harmed her career and infringed upon her rights, according to The UK’s Guardian newspaper. “Since my victory in the female 800m event at the Berlin world championships in August last year, I have been subjected to unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being,” said Semenya.

Caster Semenya can’t compete, even though she hasn’t been banned or suspended

What makes the whole IAAF operation even more comical in its ineptitude is that Caster Semenya has not officially been banned or suspended from racing. She was accommodating to a fault when she agreed not to race until the IAAF could clear up the confusion, it seems. Now she’s ready to fight. The wait has been excessive, and Caster Semenya and her advisers can find no reason that she should not be able to resume racing. She’s been given her gold medal and prize money for her 800m victory already. Here is Caster Semenya’s full comeback statement as it appeared in The Guardian.

Yet Athletics South Africa tells her to ‘hold on’

Athletics South Africa (ASA) Chairman Ray Mali has asked Caster Semenya and her advisers to remain patient. Even though the IAAF has reportedly already missed several self-imposed deadlines (in part because of a change in leadership over the mishandling of the Caster Semenya issue), ASA says that since the IAAF has promised a “speedy” process, Caster Semenya should wait for the results.

Meanwhile, Caster Semenya isn’t allowed to pursue her career of choice while the bureaucrats spin their wheels? Sure, a turnaround as fast as same day payday loans would be too much to expect, but this is ridiculous. In fact, it’s a tragedy that it may take the sacrifice of a promising sports career like what Caster Semenya would surely enjoy to expose just how incompetent world athletic associations have become.

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