WORLD athletics is in crisis over the gender of Caster Semenya after tests revealed the South African world champion has no womb or ovaries.
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 during the world athletics championships in Berlin last month, where Semenya's gender became the subject of heated debate following her victory in the 800m, 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.
Only the certainty of an even more savage backlash from South Africa has made the IAAF hesitant about slapping a ban on Semenya and revoking her gold medal.
South Africa embraced Semenya after the storm of controversy from Berlin, declaring her "our girl''. From the day news broke on August 19 that the IAAF had initiated gender verification tests on Semenya, various factions within South African society and politics have attacked the Monte Carlo based IAAF.
The African National Congress MP and National Assembly sports committee chairman Butana Komphela has already lodged a complaint with the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights, accusing the IAAF of racism and sexism.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source familiar with the IAAF inquiry into the Semenya affair explained the political as well as personal sensitivities involved.
"There certainly is evidence Semenya is a hermaphrodite. 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,'' she told The Daily Telegraph.
"There's all sorts of scans you do. This is why it's complicated. In the past you used to do a gynaecological exam, blood test, chromosome test, whatever. That's why they (the findings) were challenged, because it's not quite so simple.
"So what they do now is they do everything, and then they can say look, not only has she got this, she's got that and the other. The problem for us is to avoid it being an issue now which is very personal: of the organs being a hermaphrodite, of not being a 'real' woman. It's very dramatic.''
The IAAF expects to receive the full set of medical results this week.
When quizzed by South African magazine You on the gender issue, Semenya said: "I see it all as a joke, it doesn't upset me. God made me the way I am and I accept myself. I am who I am and I'm proud of myself. I don't want to talk about the tests - I'm not even thinking about them.''
While the IAAF are treating the Semenya case as a health matter, with her eligibility to compete in women's athletics very much a secondary issue, the same South African politicians who denied AIDS was a problem in their country are now blindly standing behind their new queen of the track.
"Well of course Caster is a totally innocent victim in this whole affair,'' the source explained. "What could she do about it? And the IAAF accepted her entry. So the two parties at fault are the IAAF and especially Athletics SA. The South Africans have got a massive responsibility, but no one seems to be attacking them.
"Basically they (ASA) have known for months, for years, that she's not normal. They could have set in process these kind of tests if they had been more responsible.''