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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 July, 2005, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
Zimbabwe sex row athlete jailed
Samukeliso Sithole
Samukeliso Sithole apologised for competing as a woman
A judge in Zimbabwe has sentenced a leading youth athlete to four years in prison for competing in female events, after being found to be a man.

Samukeliso Sithole, 18, won seven gold medals in women's competitions in 2004.

The athlete had claimed to be a hermaphrodite - with both male and female sex organs - but in court, admitted to being a man.

Six witnesses - including two doctors - said at last week's hearing, the athlete was a man.

"I am very sorry," Sithole told the court in the central town of Kwekwe.

Pregnancy fears

The athlete was charged with impersonation and causing psychological damage to fellow athletes.

Sithole was initially released while awaiting trial earlier this year because the court could not decide whether to remand the athlete in a men's or women's prison.

But in May, Sithole was found guilty of stealing from a boyfriend and sent to a male prison.

In February, the champion athlete claimed to have periods and feared becoming pregnant. Sithole said the male organs became enlarged after a traditional healer took revenge after not being paid for treatment last year.




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