Caster Semenya set for second Olympic 800m title as Russian stripped

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Russian Maria Savinova has been stripped of her 2012 Olympic 800m title, putting South African Caster Semenya in line to upgrade from silver to gold.

Savinova was given a four-year ban due to doping derived from biological passport evidence, according to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. She was found to have been doping from July 26, 2010, through Aug. 19, 2013, and all of her results in that span have been stripped.

Those results include a 2011 World Championships gold medal and a 2013 World Championships silver medal. Semenya would be upgraded to gold in 2011. American Alysia Montano is in line to be upgraded to bronze medals in 2011 and 2013, which would be the first world outdoor medals for the outspoken American. Another American Brenda Martinez, could move from 2013 World bronze to silver.

Savinova’s ban began Aug. 24, 2015, and lasts four years. Savinova, now 31, hasn’t competed internationally since 2013.

In 2015, a independent World Anti-Doping Agency panel recommended lifetime bans for Russian athletes including Savinova. In 2014, Savinova was implicated in a German TV documentary for taking a banned steroid.

In 2012, Savinova won the Olympic 800m by 1.04 seconds over Semenya, the South African scrutinized since winning the 2009 World 800m title at age 18. After that 2009 race, Savinova, who placed fifth, claimed Semenya had male genes, saying, “Just look at her,” according to reports.

Semenya has been at the center of the gender-testing controversy in track and field for seven years.

Semenya dominated en route to the 2016 Olympic 800m title, winning all 11 of her 800m events in 2016 and prevailing by 1.21 seconds in Rio in a national record.

If upgraded to gold as expected by the IAAF, Semenya will become the first woman to win multiple Olympic 800m titles.

“There was someone that finished first in the Olympics, whether she doped or not, I came second and that will never change,” Semenya said in 2015, according to South African media.

“I ran the Olympics and I won the silver medal, so I can’t celebrate anything other than my silver. Even if they crown me Olympic champion, it is just an award from them I never celebrated.

“It wouldn’t mean anything for me, it would be great for my country but for me as an athlete I cannot entertain the thought.”

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