Caster Semenya: Prepare for the Worst

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Caster Semenya: Prepare for the Worst

From the opulent Monte Carlo offices of the IAAF (track and field's international governing body) reverberates yet another echo of a simple statement made last September: "Patience, Ms. Semenya..."

For a girl noted as the world's fastest in her discipline (800m), patience may not be an easy pill to swallow.

Indeed, the 2009 800m world champion, Caster Semenya of South Africa, has until now reluctantly complied with the IAAF's wishes and not competed since.

The long delay has revolved around Semenya's much publicized and dignity-shattering gender issue: whether or not she can compete as a woman. Instead of settling the matter quickly and privately, the IAAF has sat on the pot for over six months, refusing to render a decision.

Meanwhile, the rest of the athletics world has already begun testing itself against the best the sport has to offer, as Semenya feverishly gnashes at the starting gate.

While the IAAF has allowed the South African to keep her medals and prize money and has not explicitly banned her from competition, they have effectively paralyzed her with periodic promises of a "speedy" resolution.

Apparently not as speedy as their corporate jets and limos. Monte Carlo, after all, does have its share of distractions.

My only guess as to the unreasonable slowdown is that the headquarters is not working specifically on Semenya's case but is agonizing over how to craft a definitive gender standard for future disputes.

Relaying the latest communication with IAAF, Ray Mali, administrator of Athletics South Africa, had this to say:

"There is no change in our decision that Semenya won't run until the IAAF's decision. They have (said) they will communicate with us in July."

This further delaying tactic by the martini crowd in Monaco must have been the final straw for Caster Semenya. She promptly issued an official statement declaring her intentions to defy the wishes of the governing body and return to competition.

I don't pretend to know the outcome of the IAAF's dilemma. Perhaps they have been taking the excruciating extra time in order to get it right. Or perhaps already knowing their answer, they have been hoping to wear Semenya down, expecting an eventual concession of defeat.

In the case of the former, it would ultimately be the honorable and right thing to do, regardless of Semenya's fate.

In the case of the latter, it would be foolhardy of a governing body, presiding over elite athletes, to assume such shallow commitment.

The bluff has been called. It's time to show the cards.

It may not be pretty.

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