CAPE TOWN – Olympic 800 meters champion Caster Semenya will be officially awarded her gold medal from the 2011 world athletics championships at this year’s edition in Doha, but will not be there to receive it.
Semenya was elevated to the gold medal position two years ago when Russian athlete Mariya Savinova, who sped past her on the final straight, was later disqualified for doping violations.
The South African athlete had hoped to defend her 2017 world championship title in Doha starting on September 27, but was forced to withdraw with no verdict yet delivered in her appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal against testosterone regulations imposed on her.
Semenya is appealing the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) ruling that supported regulations introduced by the sport’s governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
These say that XY chromosome athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs) can race in distances from 400m to a mile only if they take medication to reach a reduced testosterone level.
Semenya has refused to be bound by these restrictions, placing a cloud over her future in athletics.
Athletics South Africa (ASA) confirmed that Semenya would not be in Doha to receive the medal personally during an IAAF ceremony, but that a representative would collect it on her behalf.
Sunette Viljoen, who has been elevated from bronze to silver in the javelin from the 2011 championships will take part in the ceremony. Russian athlete Mariya Abakumova, the original gold medallist, was also later disqualified for doping violations.
“Congratulations to our athletes for their achievements and for being honoured as clean athletes,” ASA president Aleck Skhosana said in a media statement.
“We are happy that the IAAF now offers a chance to the rightful winners a podium celebration in front of a capacity stadium which the cheats denied them at the original competition.”
ASA say they will conduct a formal hand-over to Semenya at a later date.
Semenya now has two Olympic, three world championship and one Commonwealth Games gold medal in the 800m.