25 Aug 2009

Gender of champion under scrutiny

6:51 pm on 25 August 2009

In the record books South Africa's Caster Semenya will go down as the woman who was crowned queen of the 800 metres at the 2009 world athletics championships.

But in the coming weeks she faces an arguably tougher challenge as the world awaits the results of tests ordered to prove, or disprove, doubts over her gender.

Semenya, a tall, broad-shouldered 18-year-old, showed as much strength of character as leg power in Berlin when she powered to gold in the two-lap event.

Only hours previously, the International Association of Athletics Federations ordered the teenager to undergo a gender verification test.

While it is deemed right, in the fairness of sport, to test all suspicious athletes the IAAF itself is now under scrutiny for its hasty treatment Semenya.

Her supporters in South Africa have claimed that while she may have always looked boyish the world champion has nothing to answer for.