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Updated: June 14, 2010 18:06 IST

Announcement on Semenya’s future abruptly cancelled

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Caster Semenya competing in a Women's 800m semifinal at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin. File Photo
Caster Semenya competing in a Women's 800m semifinal at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin. File Photo

The world will have to wait a little longer to know whether South African women’s 800 metres world champion Caster Semenya can continue competing against women.

Semenya had been due to join South Africa’s Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile at a press conference near Johannesburg on Thursday afternoon to announce the outcome of her case.

But the press conference, which was called by the Sports Ministry, was called off at the last minute.

The reason was not immediately known.

The public relations firm tasked with organising the briefing said the Ministry had cancelled the announcement, without giving any explanation.

Semenya, 19, has not run competitively since winning gold at the world athletics championships in Berlin last August.

Shortly before the championships the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) ordered gender tests on the athlete because of her muscular build and dramatically improved times.

The tests caused a furore in South Africa, where Semenya was acclaimed as a heroine. As a result, the IAAF never published the results, which reportedly showed the runner her as having both male and female characteristics.

The IAAF said in a statement on Thursday that the procedure had “still not been completed and must therefore remain confidential.

“The IAAF will only issue an official statement at the end of the process, which is now well underway,” the association said, assuring the case was being handled “in a satisfactory way” with Semenya’s representative and urging “all parties” to “refrain from making statements that could only cause unnecessary confusion.” The IAAF had previously said it would announce its decision on whether Semenya could continue to run against women by June.

Reports circulating in South Africa said she had been given the thumbs-up, but did not give any sources for the information.

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