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Caster Semenya will not attend world championships to receive gold medal

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Caster Semenya is finally getting her gold medal from the 2011 World Championships after Russian Maria Savinova was stripped of the title for doping.

But Semenya won’t attend a medal reallocation ceremony at the world championships in Doha, Qatar, South Africa’s track federation said on Thursday.

Semenya was barred from defending her latest 800m world title in Doha because she has refused to follow new IAAF rules requiring her to medically reduce her natural testosterone level to be allowed to compete in certain races, including her favorite event.

Instead, Athletics South Africa will receive the medal from the world track body on Semenya’s behalf in Doha and decide on an appropriate event to hand the medal to Semenya in South Africa, it said.

The medal reallocation is happening after the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2017 upheld Savinova’s doping ban, nullifying her results from 2010 to 2013. She was also stripped of her 2012 Olympic 800m title. That title has also gone to Semenya, who finished second in that race, too.

Semenya, who has two Olympic and three world 800m titles, has, since July, not been allowed to compete at top-level track meets in distances from 400m to one mile because she refused to take hormone-suppressing medication in line with rules introduced by the IAAF last year.

Semenya challenged the rules twice in court. She lost at the Court of Arbitration for Sport this year, and her second legal appeal is still being considered by the Swiss supreme court.

If she fails in court a second time, Semenya may also be unable to defend her Olympic title next year in Tokyo.

Semenya announced last week she was joining a South African soccer club and will play for it in 2020 but later denied that meant she was retiring from athletics.

MORE: Michael Norman says no 200m-400m double for Olympics

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Caster Semenya signs with soccer club

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Caster Semenya plans to play competitive soccer next year. Whether she races on the track again is unknown.

Semenya, the two-time Olympic 800m champion, said she signed with a South African club with the intent to play competitive matches in 2020. She played the sport in her youth before becoming a world champion in 2009 at age 18.

“I am looking forward to this new journey, and hopefully I can contribute as much as I can to the club,” she said, according to a press release.

Semenya made this move after a Swiss court ruled in late July that she can’t in her best events while she appeals a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision that upheld the IAAF’s new rule that bars her. Semenya took that ruling to mean that she won’t be able to defend her world title in Doha in three weeks.

“This will not deter me from continuing my fight for the human rights of all of the female athletes concerned,” she said in a July 30 statement.

The IAAF rule that Semenya is trying to strike bars her from races between 400m and the mile unless she takes testosterone-suppressing measures, under which she would be allowed to return to those distances after six months. Semenya refuses to take those measures.

Semenya first appealed to CAS, which on May 1 ruled in favor of the IAAF. Semenya then appealed the CAS decision to the Swiss Supreme Court, which at first allowed her, but not others with her condition of difference of sexual development (DSD), to compete pending the appeal’s outcome.

Semenya has won 31 straight 800m races dating to 2015. All three Rio Olympic 800m medalists have said they are affected by the new rule. Semenya raced once while the Swiss Supreme Court allowed her to, winning the Pre Classic on May 30.

“First chapter of my life done, looking forward to my second chapter,” Semenya tweeted on July 30.

Semenya intimated her move to soccer earlier this week with Instagram posts of a soccer ball, kit and cleats.

MORE: Michael Norman says no 200m-400m double for Olympics

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Wayde van Niekerk to miss world championships

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Wayde van Niekerk, the Olympic and world 400m champion and world-record holder, will miss next month’s world championships. He has been essentially sidelined from competition for two years since tearing a meniscus and ACL in a celebrity tag rugby match.

“I’m still positive and I’m just taking things day by day, respecting all the calls made by the doctor and respecting my body,” Van Niekerk, who has resumed training, said in a statement. “For now I’m not rushing myself or putting pressure on myself. I’m extremely happy and at peace with where I am.”

Van Niekerk, who ran 43.03 at the Rio Olympics to break Michael Johnson‘s world record, had hoped to return in full this season, but a knee bone bruise set him back.

Van Niekerk made a low-key return at a meet in South Africa on Feb. 28, clocking 47.28 seconds. That’s his lone meet since he won the 400m and took 200m silver at the August 2017 World Championships, according to Tilastopaja.org.

Van Niekerk would have been a clear underdog had he entered worlds in Doha that start in three weeks.

American Michael Norman ran the sixth-fastest 400m in history on April 20, a 43.45 that was also the fastest ever run before the month of June. Van Niekerk has broken 43.45 just once, in that Rio Olympic epic. He and Norman have never raced head-to-head.

It looks like the Rio Olympic 400m silver and bronze medalists will both be absent from worlds.

Grenada’s Kirani James, who has not raced since July 2018 and has been out with Graves’ Disease, must race by Saturday to be eligible for worlds. Representatives for James and Grenada’s federation have not responded to requests for comment on his status.

American LaShawn Merritt has raced once since June 2, 2018,and has not raced a 400m since bowing out of the 2017 World Championships in the semifinals.

The U.S. has the six fastest 400m runners this season.

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