17 Sep 2009

Former Olympic champion wades into Semenya debate

6:35 am on 17 September 2009

The retired American track and field star Carl Lewis says South African athletics authorities have "let down" teenager Caster Semenya, amid the row over her sex.

The newly crowned 800m world champion has had medical tests following doubts about whether she's actually female.

Athletics' world governing body the IAAF demanded the test three weeks before the World Champs and Lewis says Semenya should have been withdrawn.

The test was never conducted and Semenya was allowed to compete, and Lewis says South African officials are responsible for the fallout.

Lewis says he's upset by the handling of the affair, claiming the 18-year-old was let down every step along the way and the South African federation should have dealt with the situation earlier - and he thinks Semenya, who destroyed the field in Berlin to win in one minute, 55.45 seconds, the year's fastest time, a personal best and a national record, should be allowed to keep her gold medal.

Medical experts are still examining the results of the tests, with the conclusions expected in November although they are expected to show Semenya is intersex.