Berlin:The IAAF has asked the South African athletics federation to conduct a gender verification test on 800-meter runner Caster Semenya amid concerns she does not meet the requirements to compete as a woman.
The 18-year-old Semenya is a favorite in Wednesday's 800 final at the world championships.
The IAAF requested the gender test about three weeks ago, after Semenya burst onto the scene by slicing her personal bests in the 800 and 1,500 by huge margins.
IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said the "extremely complex, difficult" test has been started but that the results were not expected for weeks.
The verification test requires a physical medical evaluation, and includes reports from a gynecologist, endocrinologist, psychologist, an internal medicine specialist and an expert on gender.
"So we're talking about reports that are very long, very time consuming," Davies said.
Semenya qualified for Wednesday's final with a top time of 1 minute, 58.64 seconds, and posted the world's top time this year of 1:56.72 three weeks ago at the African junior championships in Bambous, Mauritius.
It was not immediately clear what would happen if Semenya were to medal in Wednesday's final and the test results later determine she does not meet the requirements to compete.
"I can't say that if 'X' happens in the future that we will, for example, retroactively strip results. It's legally very complex," Davies said.
"If there's a problem and it turns out that there's been a fraud ... that someone has changed sex, then obviously it would be much easier to strip results," Davies added. "However, if it's a natural thing and the athlete has always thought she's a woman or been a woman, it's not exactly cheating."
He said a decision in such instances is "done on a case by case basis."
"It's something that would have to be considered by the legal experts at that time," Davies said.