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Semenya wins in Montreuil, intends to defend 800m world title

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Semenya wins in Montreuil, intends to defend 800m world title
South African athlete Caster Semenya races for the first time after her ban due to elevated testosterone levels, during a 2,000 metres at a small meeting in Montreuil, near Paris, France, June 11, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer   -   Copyright  PHILIPPE WOJAZER(Reuters)
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By Julien Pretot

MONTREUIL, France (Reuters) – Caster Semenya, who is battling the sport’s governing IAAF over rules that prevent her from running her preferred distance races unless she takes testosterone-suppressant medication, won a 2,000 metres at the Montreuil athletics meeting on Tuesday.

The double Olympic champion has appealed a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision that supported the IAAF’s rule that XY chromosome athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs), like Semenya, can only race in distances from 400m to a mile if they take medication to lower their testosterone levels.

“I can run any distance I want,” the South African told reporters after wining her race in five minutes 38.19 in front of 1,650 spectators on the outskirts of Paris.

“I don’t have time for nonsense, I don’t have time for messages for anyone. I said a long time ago that I’m going to focus on myself.

“There will always be people who will provoke you, but I’m always going to stay positive. I’m not going to talk about the appeal, I have a lawyer, I have a team. I am an athlete the only thing I focus on is my performance.”

Asked if she would be defending her 800 metres title at the world championships, which start in September, Semenya replied: “Of course I’m an athlete, a world class athlete. My goals are very clear, I think I’ve made a statement in Doha (in May), running in 1:54(.98), it’s pretty clear to me.”

Semenya has appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT), who ruled last week that she can run in her favoured 800 metres event without taking medication until her appeal has been ruled on.

She was named in South Africa’s preliminary squad for the world championships in Doha, though this is dependent on the outcome of her appeal to the SFT.

She has so far not entered races in distances covered by the IAAF rules, having won the 5,000 metres national title this year.

Her next race is expected to be the 3,000 metres of the Prefontaine Classic in Stanford, California, on June 30.

Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, another XY chromosome athlete with differences in sexual development (DSDs), was fifth in the 2,000 metres on Tuesday.

She said after the race that she would not take testosterone-suppressant medication. “I’m against (those rules). It’s discriminatory,” she said.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis)

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