Semenya on track to cast off gender controversy

Paris: Caster Semenya sprinted to the women`s world 800m crown two years ago and quickly found herself entangled in a maelstrom of seedy allegations that saw her cast into limbo because of doubts over her true gender.

But the South African returns to action at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu cleared to run by the sport`s world governing body, the IAAF, and largely accepted by her peers.

The 20-year-old Semenya, who clocked a jaw-dropping personal best of 1:55.45 in storming to victory at the 2009 Berlin worlds, was stood down soon after and remained on the sidelines until July 2010.

The Pretoria University student was revealed to be a hermaphrodite after the leaking of test results following her 800m win in Berlin.

The incident generated anger from the South African public and government, who rallied behind the athlete, and sparked a major gender review by the IAAF, which in April introduced new eligibility rules for women athletes with excessive male hormones, a medical condition known as hyperandrogenism.

Semenya was cleared to compete as a woman in July 2010, nearly a year after she shot to prominence.

"It wasn`t easy to come back after the IAAF ban, but this was the goal," Semenya admitted.

She will face a tough outing at Daegu, up against the likes of former world champion and Olympic silver medallist Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya, world indoor and European outdoor champion Mariya Savinova of Russia and Britain`s Jenny Meadows, who won world championship bronze behind Semenya and Jepkosgei in 2009.


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