The Daily Tele has broken a whopping world exclusive today: South African runner Caster Semenya is a hermaphrodite.

Since Caster Semenya won the 800m in Berlin last month, many doubts were raised about her gender and an extensive investigation has been underway. Now, according to the Tele, no further investigation is necessary. The results are in:

“The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is ready to disqualify Semenya from future events and advise her to have immediate surgery because her condition carries grave health risks. They have also not ruled out stripping Semenya of her 800m world championships gold medal. Tests conducted… revealed evidence she is a hermaphrodite, someone with both male and female sexual characteristics.

Semenya, 18, has three times the amount of testosterone that a “normal” female would have. According to a source closely involved with the Semenya examinations IAAF testing, which included various scans, has revealed she has internal testes — the male sexual organs which produce testosterone.”

Except, the investigation hasn’t finished yet.

Yesterday, before the Tele story hit, Pierre Weiss, secretary-general of the IAAF, the association conducting the gender tests, spoke about the latest news on the gender investigation, saying preliminary results were in:

“The case will in principle come before the executive council which meets on November 20-21. There’ll be nothing before that.

It is clear that she is a woman but maybe not 100 per cent. We have to see if she has an advantage from her possibly being between two sexes compared to the others. We still don’t have all the results and those we do have must be submitted to experts for evaluation. The problem we have today is to know whether we submit these results to experts from outside the IAAF or our own medical commission which meets in Monaco on October 16 or to the two panels.”

The IAAF, Weiss added, could also be bound by medical secrecy laws which could prevent the full results being revealed should the athlete oppose it.

The (IAAF) did not comment about the Tele’s news.

So is it ethical for a newspaper to publish results of the gender investigation of an 18-year-old girl before the girl herself has seen the results or a medical team has had time to properly investigate them?

According the South Africa’s The Times “Caster Semenya’s family and South African athletics bosses are outraged”. It seems that the Tele did not inform Semenya or her family of the findings before going public.

It was, in fact, The Times that broke the news to her family. Athletics South Africa (ASA) president Leonard Chuene said “This is a sinister agenda to destroy that little girl.”

But Ben English of the Tele says that issues of race have been critical to the Semenya story, with ASA claiming not to have performed gender tests on Semenya prior to the world champions, although a senior coach has come out and said tests were indeed done. Says English:

“The bottom line is that ASA, which is controlled by South Africa’s ruling political party the ANC, desperately wanted a gold medal in Berlin. Semenya’s amazing improvement this year indicated she would be the one to deliver. And when her performance and striking physical appearance at the championships inevitably led to questions over her gender, South Africa reverted to its default response and played the race card. Their OJ Simpson-like stance was simple: any questioning of Semenya’s status is a race-based attack on the girl and the achievements of black South Africans.”

Which still ignores the fact that the investigation is incomplete. Gender isn’t a straightforward issue. The Times have come out in anger at the Tele’s report about their citizen:

“This report bears no comment from Semenya or any athletics official in South Africa. There is no IAAF comment other than the off-the-record quotes. Until there is much firmer evidence, these reports cannot be counted as statements of scientific fact. Even if they are correct, the newspaper’s failure to inform Semenya and obtain her comment before publishing to an incredulous world, was insensitive. We hope that the IAAF will put an end to this public discussion about Semenya’s gender by fully disclosing to her the outcome of their tests. This is a deeply personal matter that requires transparency and sensitivity.”

The Tele must be feeling pretty smug, since media sites around the world (including The Independent and, have all picked up the hermaphrodite news and are attributing “Aussie newspaper” the Tele for the breaking news.

The Tele source says “But the trouble is the IAAF now have the whole ANC and the whole of South Africa on their backs. Everything is going to have to be done absolutely by the book, no question of a challenge to our findings”.

Semenya’s case raises several difficult issues for international athletics. But the Tele report just undermines the IAAF investigation and throws up even more questions.

The Daily Telegraph were contacted for comment, but did not get back to Crikey before deadline.

View our complete Wankley winners’ archive