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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 1, 2010

Track and field: ASA: Semenya should 'talk to the right people'

AP Sports Writer

JOHANNESBURG After Caster Semenya's lawyers announced they will take legal action to allow her to run, Athletics South Africa said today the 800-meter world champion at the center of a gender dispute could race next week if she talks "to the right people."

Semenya, who has not run since she won the world title in August because she is waiting for the results of her gender verification tests, was denied a chance to run Tuesday at a meet in Stellenbosch. On Thursday, her law firm said it will begin legal action "soon."

"There's a process," ASA acting head Ray Mali told The Associated Press about Semenya's chances of competing next week. "If she would like to run, she has to talk to the right people."

Mali said Richard Stander, another ASA official, was in charge of a panel that invited athletes to compete at Yellow Pages events in South Africa. Stander was the organizer of Tuesday's meet in Stellenbosch, but he prevented Semenya from competing because the gender test results have not yet been announced.

Although Semenya has never been suspended, she has not run competitively since the world championships nearly eight months ago. She said in a statement Tuesday that she intended to return to competition, in part because the International Association of Athletics Federations had not responded to her questions about the status of her gender test results.

She may aim to compete Tuesday at an event in Germiston, near Johannesburg.

Mali said he was surprised to hear that Semenya's lawyers were planning legal action.

"It's their prerogative to do that, but I am surprised that they are moving towards legal action," Mali said. "If it comes, I will have to face it."

Mali also said when he was in contact with the IAAF, it asked for Semenya to be patient and wait for her results to be released in June.

"The main request was to be patient," Mali said. "I will be the first one to knock on their door and get them to keep to their word for June."

Mali said ASA had invited Semenya to be an ambassador for the Yellow Pages Series this year and asked her to travel around the country signing autographs. Mali said there had been no response to the invitation from Semenya or her advisers.

Semenya won the women's 800 at the 2009 world championships in Berlin. Her dramatic improvement in times and muscular build led the IAAF to order gender tests. The IAAF has refused to confirm or deny Australian media reports that the tests indicate Semenya has both male and female sex organs.

Also Thursday, the disciplinary hearings against eight suspended ASA board members, including president Leonard Chuene, and three employees were delayed until July.

They were suspended in November because of the handling of the Semenya case and allegations of financial mismanagement.

Chuene admitted lying about not having any knowledge of gender tests conducted on Semenya in Pretoria before the world championships. He also said he ignored advice from an ASA doctor to withdraw Semenya from the championships.

Mali, who is charged with cleaning up South Africa's athletic federation, had hoped to start the hearings in mid-March.

A forensic audit, ordered after shredded documents and deleted computer files were discovered at the ASA head office in Johannesburg, is expected to be completed by the end of April.