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Semenya's gender tested unknown to her: Mother

South Africa's champion runner Caster Semenya was subjected to gender tests without her knowledge, according to her mother.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2009 17:46 IST
DPA

South Africa's champion runner Caster Semenya was subjected to gender tests without her knowledge, according to her mother.

Speaking to South Africa's Sunday Independent about this week's media reports claiming the test results show Semenya to be intersex - or having both male and female characteristics, Dorcus Semenya said neither her daughter nor the family were informed she was going to be tested.

"I don't care about what they say she is, because I am her mother. But what makes me even more angry is that as the parents we were not even informed she was going to be tested," Semenya said.

"The way they acted is like thieves who just break into your house and do whatever they want," she accused, adding: "What is even more heartbreaking is that my child said she was not told anything about the tests."

Because of her masculine appearance and suddenly-improved times over the past year the IAAF requested gender tests on 18-year-old Semenya in the run-up to the world championships in Berlin last month.

The news broke hours before Semenya took gold in the 800 metres.

While the IAAF has drawn hefty criticism for its handling of the matter, which saw both the sensitive decision to test Semenya's gender and the even more sensitive purported results leaked to the media, South Africa's athletics body is also coming under fire.

The Sunday Times daily quoted three unnamed senior athletics officials as saying the team doctor had advised Athletics South Africa (ASA) president Leonard Chuene to withdraw Semenya from the Berlin team while questions hung over her biological make-up.

ASA went ahead and fielded Semenya, who was a strong medal hope after easily winning the title of African junior champion in July.

The Times also reported that the ASA had arranged the gender tests in Pretoria Aug 7 at the IAAF's request. Semenya's ex-coach Wilfred Daniels resigned last week after also claiming ASA had subjected her to the gender testing without her knowledge.

Chuene has denied the allegations, which if confirmed would amount to a serious breach of the athlete's rights, experts say.

The public scrutiny of Semenya's body has sparked anger in South Africa, where politicians, civil society groups and ordinary people have rallied to her side.

According to South African sports officials, she is only one of around four or five athletes who have undergone IAAF gender tests over the past year - but hers is the only case that was made public.

Sydney's Daily Telegraph on Friday reported that the tests had shown Semenya to have internal testes instead of ovaries, no womb and high testosterone levels. The IAAF is refusing to release the results until November, saying it wants to speak to Semenya and consult experts first.

The South African government has accused the IAAF of violating Semenya's rights and vowed legal action against the IAAF, warning any attempt to ban her from competition would lead to a "third world war."

The Johannesburg law firm that represented double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius in his successful challenge against an IAAF ban last year has taken on the case.

Semenya has gone to ground since Friday's "hermaphrodite" revelations. She pulled out of a race in Pretoria on Saturday.