It took a week short of 11 months, but Caster Semenya was finally celebrating another victory yesterday.
The South African teenager who stormed to victory in the women's 800m final at the World Championships in Berlin last August but who subsequently found herself in a state of limbo while the global governing body of athletics undertook gender verification tests, has been given the go-ahead to pick up the threads of her running career.
It is understood that the victory has come at the cost of hormone treatment for an inter-sex condition and it remains to be seen whether the 19-year-old returns to action as quite the same world-beating force.
The green light — which had been expected last November, then March, then June — came yesterday in the form of a three line statement issued by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
“The process initiated in 2009 in the case of Caster Semenya has now been completed,” it read.
“The IAAF accepts the conclusion of a panel of medical experts that she can compete with immediate effect. Please note that the medical details of the case remain confidential and the IAAF will make no further comment on the matter.”
Semenya's simple reaction was: “I am thrilled to enter the global athletics arena once again and look forward to competing with all the disputes behind me.”
Jenny Meadows, the British athlete who took the World Championship bronze medal behind Semenya and the Kenyan runner Janeth Jepkosgei, said: “I think the announcement that she would be allowed to run was always going to happen.
“It was just a case of when, and the medics have obviously come to a decision that she's now allowed to compete.”
Asked whether she would be happy to compete against Semenya, Meadows — whose slender 5ft 1in figure cut a stark contrast to that of the big, muscular South African in the Berlin final — replied: “We'll never know what's happened in these eleven months but she's now been given the go-ahead.
“The medical team say that the place she's at now, she's a female. If they she's a female I'm happy to compete against her.
“I hope the IAAF have taken Semenya's best interests at heart, and the rest of the girls she'll be competing against. The IAAF make the rules and we race against her. We've got to accept that, yeah, she's a female.
“I think we'll never know what the situation was in Berlin. That's gone. They did say they would never release the results of the tests.
“I'll be as interested as anybody else to see what happens when she runs again.”