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IOC draws up rules to avoid gender rows at London 2012

Caster Semenya
The IOC denies the Semenya case is the catalyst for its action

Female athletes with excessive levels of male sex hormones will be subject to new regulations at the 2012 Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee is drawing up the rules, which could avoid a repeat of the Caster Semenya dispute.

The South African won the 800m at the 2009 World Championships but was then prevented from running while her high testosterone levels were investigated.

The IOC's medical commission has put forward principles on which to base rules on excessive male sex hormones.

The overproduction of male sex hormones occurs in females suffering from a condition called hyperandrogenism.

A female recognised in law will be able to compete in female competitions as long as she has male hormone levels below those in men, the medical commission has suggested.

It has also recommended that investigations into specific cases should be conducted under "strict confidentiality".

There will not be many such cases. (But) they are there and they have to be dealt with in fairness for the athletes and for sport

Arne Ljungqvist, IOC medical commission chair

A panel of independent international experts in hyperandrogenism should evaluate each case and issue a recommendation on eligibility for the sport concerned, it added.

The sport would then use the recommendations to make a final decision on eligibility. If an athlete refused to comply with any part of the process, she would not be eligible to compete in her chosen sport.

The IOC, which is holding a two-day meeting in London, said on Tuesday that new rules should be introduced by next year's Olympics in London.

But medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist claimed the move had "nothing to do" with the Semenya case and that Olympic and medical experts had been discussing the issues for years.

"There will not be many such cases," he added. "In my experience, there have been only a handful of cases in the last 10 years. [But] they are there and they have to be dealt with in fairness for the athletes and for sport."

Ljungqvist said an investigation could be triggered by an athlete approaching medical officials on her own to seek evaluation, an athlete being identified during drug testing as having male characteristics, or a drug test showing abnormal hormone levels.

But allegations by one athlete against another would not be a cause for investigation, he said.

Caster Semenya

Replay - Semenya takes gold

"We don't want to get into a situation of finger pointing," he added.

The medical commission will draw up detailed rules to be submitted for approval at the IOC's executive board meeting in Durban, South Africa, in July.

It worked with the International Association of Athletics Federations to draft the proposed guidelines, and Ljungqvist said the IAAF was expected to approve them later this month.

Semenya won the 2009 world title in Berlin in a personal best time of 1 minutes 55.45 seconds, more than two seconds clear of the defending champion Janeth Jepkosgei.

But three weeks before the championships she was asked to undergo gender tests by the IAAF over fears she should not have been able to run as a woman.

Following the World Championships she was banned by the IAAF because unusually high levels of testosterone were detected in a sample.

But she was cleared in July 2010 and returned to competition where she left off, winning her first two races in low-key meetings in Finland before breaking two minutes in Berlin again in August 2010.

The handling of Semenya's case was a factor in the sacking of the head of South Africa's athletics body, Leonard Chuene, in February.

Chuene and the entire Athletics South Africa (ASA) board had been suspended since 2009 over their conduct in the case.

Chuene had admitted lying about tests conducted on Semenya.

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see also
Semenya to ignore negative jibes
23 Aug 10 |  Athletics
Semenya secures second 800m win
19 Jul 10 |  Athletics
Semenya wins on return to action
15 Jul 10 |  Athletics
Athlete Semenya free to compete
06 Jul 10 |  Athletics
Semenya 'let down' in gender row
15 Sep 09 |  Athletics
Semenya 'must not be humiliated'
11 Sep 09 |  Athletics
New twist in Semenya gender saga
25 Aug 09 |  Athletics
Semenya told to take gender test
19 Aug 09 |  Athletics

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