A panel of medical experts confirmed that South African track champion Caster Semenya is not a man.
The athlete’s gender was called into question after taking home a gold medal for winning the 800-meter dash at the world championships in Berlin almost a year ago. The wide time lapse between Semenya and the other runners, along with her masculine appearance and deep voice prompted a lengthy investigation. The International Association of Athletics Federation has been investigating her case for the past 10 months through intrusive sex tests.
“The process initiated in 2009 in the case of Caster Semenya has now been completed,” the organization said in a statement on its Web site. “The IAAF accepts the conclusion of a panel of medical experts that she can compete with immediate effect. Please note that the medical details of the case remain confidential and the IAAF will make no further comment on the matter.”
The July 6 announcement sparked a celebration in South Africa, where Semenya grew up in a small village without electricity or plumbing. South African activists and politicians protested the investigation from the beginning, saying the 19-year-old was a victim of racism and the bitterness of her rivals after her smoking victory.
“For me, she is not a woman,” Elisa Piccione, who finished dead last in the race, said in comments to the press at the time.
With the close of the case, Semenya is now cleared to participate in international competitions. Her first appearance could be in Canada, where she is eligible to race in the world junior championships starting July 19. In a statement released by her lawyers, the champ said she is happy to be back. “I am thrilled to re-enter the global athletics arena once again and look forward to competing with all the disputes behind me,” Semenya said according to GlobeSports.com.