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Graham forced to pull out of Marathon with a foot problem

 

Laura Graham
Laura Graham

By Brian Hill

Top contender Laura Graham has dramatically pulled out of Sunday's Deep RiverRock Belfast Marathon at late notice with a troubling foot issue.

The 33-year-old told organisers yesterday that she has a foot infection.

It's the latest setback for the Mourne Runners athlete, who has suffered injury problems since her runner-up spot last year.

The withdrawal of 2017 Belfast Marathon champion Graham will be a blow to organisers. With a personal best time of 2 hrs 37 mins, she is the province's most exciting prospect.

However a record 5,000 runners will be taking part in what is set to be one of the highest quality races in the 38-year history of the event, which will start at Stormont (9am) and is the first ever Sunday running of the race.

Upwards of 11,000 runners will take part in the relay alongside the marathon.

• Caster Semenya will compete in her final 800m in Doha today before new IAAF rules regulating the testosterone levels for athletes with a difference in sex development take hold.

The first Diamond League event of the season will be the last time Semenya can compete in her favourite event before the new regulations are introduced.

Athletes with differences in sex development will now be required to take medication to reduce their testosterone.

Double Olympic champion Semenya will now have to take hormone suppressants if she wants to defend her world title in September.

The South African was not at a press conference yesterday to hear IAAF President Sebastian Coe welcome the Court of Arbitration for Sport's verdict as upholding the principle that fair competition in women's sport should be protected.

But she posted a strongly-worded message on her Twitter account, saying: "They laugh at me Because I am Different. I Laugh at them Because they're all The same."

Lord Coe, however, said: "It's very straightforward for any international federation in sport.

"Athletics has two classifications - it has age, it has gender.

"We are fiercely protective about both and I'm really grateful that the Court of Arbitration has upheld that principle," he added.

The ruling has provoked fury among the South African's supporters.

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