Olympics

In big surprise, Caster Semenya listed to run at worlds in Oregon

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Caster Semenya is listed to compete at next week’s world championships in Oregon, potentially setting up a surprise return to the big stage for the two-time Olympic champion and one of the most contentious athletes.

Semenya was listed on Friday for the women’s 5,000 meters, an event she has turned to after being banned from running in her favorite 800 meters race by track and field’s testosterone regulations.

Semenya’s inclusion on a competitor list released by World Athletics was unexpected after she didn’t make the qualifying time for the 5,000 and was not included in the South Africa team for the worlds named this week.

NBC reported that Semenya was moved up onto the list for the worlds after some higher-ranked runners didn’t enter the championships. South Africa’s track federation and Semenya’s representatives didn’t immediately respond to requests for clarification.

If she runs, it will be the first time Semenya has appeared at a world championships or Olympics since 2017, when she won her third world title in the 800. She also has two Olympic golds over two laps but has been barred from running in races from 400 meters to one mile since 2019 under rules that bar women who have an intersex condition called 46,XY difference in sex development.

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Semenya has twice gone to court to appeal against the rules but has lost both cases. She is pursuing a third appeal at the European Court of Human Rights.

Semenya’s appearance at a worlds would also come just as athletics authorities are considering changes to their DSD regulations that might go so far as to completely exclude women athletes with 46,XY DSD and high natural testosterone from all female events at major meets.

Semenya was assigned female at birth, raised as a girl and identifies as a woman. She has never publicly identified herself as intersex — that is, having both male and female traits — or as having the 46,XY DSD condition.

However, she essentially acknowledged having the condition by appealing the DSD rules at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2018. Semenya has publicly acknowledged having high natural testosterone but has declined to submit to the DSD rules that state she must undergo treatment to suppress her natural hormone levels to below a specific threshold if she wants to compete in the 800 meters.

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