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Lawyers for gender-questioned South African athlete says test proves she's a woman

Photo by THEMBA HADEBE

Photo by THEMBA HADEBE

JOHANNESBURG -- Caster Semenya's lawyers have told South African television that gender test results obtained in February show she can compete as a woman.

Semenya's lawyers told the eNews channel Wednesday that her medical team looked at test results following the 2009 world championships and their own tests and concluded that she was clear to compete.

Benedict Phiri, of the Dewey and Leboeuf law firm, said the 800-meter world champion should have been free to compete since mid-Febraury.

"Caster's medical team have looked at the results from Berlin and South Africa," Phiri said. "And have also conducted their own tests and there was a point in time, I think mid-February, where we got the go-ahead to say we've looked at everything now and based on what we've seen, we believe Caster is entitled to participate in female athletics competitions."

Semenya's lawyers said the IAAF has delayed Semenya's comeback while it evaluates its own results, and the lengthy process had frustrated her.

"The fact that she was prohibited or prevented from competing in Stellenbosch (last week) was a big frustration to her," Phiri said, "because as far as she's concerned and as far as everyone around her is concerned, there really is nothing that is stopping her from participating in female athletics competitions."

The world champion's lawyers also told eNews that Semenya would not compete until June because "we didn't want to run a collision course either with Athletics South Africa or the IAAF."

Semenya had threatened legal action against ASA after it prevented her from running at a meet in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town, last week.

"We saw that she had to run under these umbrella bodies at some stage and hence we didn't choose confrontation," Greg Nott, head of Dewey and Leboeuf's South Africa office said.

Athletics' world governing body has said repeatedly it will not comment on Semenya until the case is concluded. The IAAF is expected to finally release its findings in June.

Semenya's legal team has said the process was causing the teenager "harm and distress."

The IAAF has also refused to confirm or deny Australian media reports that Semenya has both male and female sex organs.

Semenya released a statement through her lawyers Tuesday that said she would now wait for the IAAF to rule on the gender verification tests ordered following her dominant victory, as an 18-year-old, in the 800 in Berlin last August.

She said she would then make her long-awaited return to competition in Spain on June 24.

Semenya also asked her lawyers to seek confirmation from the IAAF that her position would be clarified in early June.

"We have certainly followed up and kept the pressure on the IAAF to say come, we don't want an open-ended situation," Nott told eNews on Wednesday. "We want to close it down so she can go on with her life."