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Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Semenya lauded as questions linger

Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG -- Looking relaxed but shy and awkward under the glare of media attention, South African runner Caster Semenya returned home Tuesday amid questions about her gender after her stunning 800-meter win at the world championships.

The president of Athletics South Africa, Leonard Chuene, was defiant and said he had resigned from his seat on the IAAF board to protest the organization's treatment of Semenya. She is not accused of trying to cheat, but of perhaps unknowingly having a medical condition that blurs her gender and gives her an unfair advantage.

"We are not going to allow Europeans to describe and define our children," he told a news conference, which Semenya attended although she did not address reporters.

Semenya's victory in Berlin came after world athletics officials said they were conducting gender tests after questions arose about her muscular build and deep voice. South Africans have embraced her achievement despite the questions.

Semenya was greeted warmly at the airport in Johannesburg by several thousand singing and dancing fans. A homemade poster held by a fan at the airport declared Semenya "our first lady of sport."