Why the furore over Caster Semenya?

World 800m champion Caster Semenya of South Africa
South Africa's world champion Caster Semenya produced the fifth fastest 800 metres time in history to win in grand sytle this evening - in a new world leading time of 1:55.45. But that's not the only story.

The 18-year old middle distance sensation is at the centre of an inquiry over concerns raised about whether she is male or female. Most of these so-called concerns stem from Australia and Europeans.

One BBC commentator in Berlin even had the audacity to claim on air that "the background of African athletes are always questionable", and then went on to ask the opinion of bronze medallist Jenny Meadows.

Shame on him for saying that, but I know that we Africans would no longer sit back and take such ignorant smear any longer. Worse was said last year when Kenyan Pamela Jelimo came onto the scene. I heard many fellow journalists from Europe wondered why she looked so masculine.

Back to the furore over this young lady. False reports from Australia, The Sydney Morning Herald, even claimed authorities have insisted that gender tests be conducted on the 18-year-old. However, her coach, University of Pretoria trainer Michael Feme, says as far as he is concerned Semenya’s gender is not in doubt.

Team South Africa’s Phiwe Mlangeni Tsholetsane says the reports are off the mark. “There’s totally no truth about it. There’s not even a concern from the fellow competitors of the 800m about Castor. I want to confirm that there is no such thing," Tsholetsane.

Feme said they understand why people will ask questions because she looks like a man and the authorities are welcome to do what they have to do to find this out for themselves.

He also mentioned a recent incident when he and Semenya stopped at a petrol station in Cape Town and she was barred from entering the ladies' toilets by the petrol attendants because they were convinced she was male.

"Caster just laughed and asked if they would like her to take off her pants to show them she was a woman."

Feme also says the authorities are welcome to do what they have to do to find this out for themselves. "On my side, they must carry on. They must do what they think is good for them, if they don’t believe some of the things," he said.

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