S. Africa Says Semenya Should Run As Woman

South Africa's Caster Semenya celebrates after winning the gold medal in the final of the Women's 800m during the World Athletics Championships in Berlin, Aug. 19, 2009. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

South Africa's governing party wants champion runner Caster Semenya to compete as a woman regardless of any gender tests.

African National Congress party spokesman Jackson Mthembu said Monday that Semenya had been brought up as a girl and should therefore "continue to run as a woman."

Semenya won the 800-meter race at the world championships on Aug. 19 in Berlin in 1 minute, 55.45 seconds, finishing 2.45 seconds ahead of her closest competitor. It was the fastest time in the world this year. Before the final, track and field's ruling body said it had ordered gender tests.

The International Association of Athletics Federations ordered more tests done on the runner in Berlin, saying questions had been raised about her muscular physique and recent stunning improvement in times.

The IAAF has refused to confirm or deny Australian media reports that Semenya , saying it is reviewing test results and will issue a decision in November on whether the athlete will be allowed to compete in women's events.

The ANC has set up a group to support Semenya and says she has been "victimized and subjected to unnecessary public scrutiny."

Former President Nelson Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is to lead the support group. She is a prominent ANC figure and lawmaker.
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