World champion Caster Semenya will turn out in what could be her last ever international 800m race when she lines up at the Diamond League season opener in Doha on Friday night.
Semenya was included in the entry lists for the top-flight track and field meeting, which was set to be held just five days before new International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) regulations kicked in.
Required from next week to take medication to reduce her natural testosterone levels in order to compete internationally over distances ranging from 400m to the mile (1.609km), after losing a long-running battle at the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Wednesday, Semenya could be sidelined from the track for at least six months while undergoing treatment.
Alternatively, she could switch her focus to the 5 000m event, which was not affected by the new IAAF regulations and did not require athletes with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD) to take hormone suppressants. This, however, would make her ineligible to compete against women over shorter distances at international competitions.
Either way, Friday’s contest was likely to be her last competitive 800m race this year.
She was up against a strong field which included perennial rival Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, who was also reported to be among the athletes affected by the new DSD rules.
Meanwhile, two other South African athletes were included in the start lists for the Doha meeting, with world junior champion Zeney van der Walt making her Diamond League debut alongside experienced compatriot Wenda Nel in the women’s 400m hurdles race.