Caster Semenya, an 18-year-old track & field star and women's 800 meters World Champion, has been asked to submit to a "gender test" because some think she's a man.
The controversy starts and ends with her times in the 800m. Last month in Mauritus, she posted a world leading personal best of 1:56.72 and when she blew away the field at the World Championships in Berlin yesterday she did so by setting another personal best of 1:55.45. (The second place finisher's time was 1:57.90 and the current world record is 1:54.68).
The International Association of Athletics Federations Director of Communications, Nick Davies, said:
"It's a medical issue. It's not an issue of cheating. We're more concerned for the person not to make this something which is humiliating for her and something which is going to affect her in a negative way. This is why you will appreciate we have to be discreet. She is a human being who was born as a woman and who has grown up all her life as a woman but who is now in a position where this is being questioned."
The gender verification test was conducted by an endocrinologist, a gynecologist, a psychologist and an expert on gender; The results will take weeks.
Her coach, Michael Seme, says he is used to the commotion. He recalls stopping to use the facilities at a gas station in Cape Town recently and as Caster tried to enter the women's bathroom, she was stopped by the petrol attendants. "Caster just laughed and asked if they would like her to take off her pants to show them she was a woman," he said.
If she is found to be a male, her medals will be stripped and all mentions of her in track & field records will be erased. Sorta like she never existed.