South African Caster Semenya 18, who had never competed outside of Africa, before this week aroused suspicions when she posted the fastest 800m time in the world this year, winning gold at the African junior championships.
Yesterday she won the gold medal in Berlin in 1 minute 55.45 seconds, the best in the world this year, beating Janeth Jepkosgei, the defending champion, by 2.45 seconds. The British runner Jenny Meadows won the bronze medal.
Semenya was cleared to run but not cleared of the allegations and questions that have dogged her all week, as South African officials were ordered to organise more complex gender testing to determine whetehr her world title will stand or fall when results are received in several weeks’ time.
In a way it was the worst possible outcome, but one that was hard to avoid. With plenty of questions and few answers hanging over her head the South African powered home to annihilate a world class field, winning by more than 20 metres.
Earlier in the day the governing IAAF had ordered the South African federation to perform more stringent investigations to determine whether Semenya is female, male or somewhere in-between after the tests carried out by the IAAF in recent days provided conflicting results and were unable to settle the matter.
IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said the “extremely complex, difficult” test had been ordered but warned that results would take weeks to be finalised. “The situation today is that we don’t have any conclusive evidence that she should not be allowed to run,” he said.
The verification test requires a physical medical evaluation, and includes reports from a gynecologist, endocrinologist, psychologist, an internal medicine specialist and an expert on gender. “We’re talking about reports that are very long, very time consuming,” Davies said.