Olympics-Semenya’s Tokyo bid ends as qualifying deadline passes

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(Reuters) - Caster Semenya again failed to achieve the Olympic qualifying time for the women’s 5000m when she finished fourth at a meeting in Liege on Wednesday, but she would not have been included in South Africa’s team for the Tokyo Games even if she had.

Athletics South Africa said Semenya had missed the deadline for Olympic entries, which was on Tuesday, and they were told by governing body World Athletics that no exceptions would be allowed.

“We did double check with World Athletics about the deadline and it was cast in stone. There would have been no special grace for Caster,” Athletics South Africa spokesman Sifiso Cele told Reuters.

The 30-year-old South African is banned from competing in any race from 400m to a mile after World Athletics ruled in 2018 that to ensure fair competition, women with high natural testosterone levels must take medication to reduce them to compete in middle-distance races.

The double Olympic 800m champion, who refuses to take any medication to alter her testosterone levels, was left with the 5000m as her best chance to go to Tokyo but several efforts to finish inside the qualifying mark of 15:10.00 have failed.

On Wednesday, she ran 15:50.12, and was some 45 seconds behind winner Aberash Minsewo of Ethiopia.

Semenya continues to challenge the World Athletics ruling and has taken her case to the European Court of Human Rights but that process is unlikely to be completed for months.

Last year she attempted the 200m as an alternative, and lowered her personal best from 24.26 to 23.49, but was still well outside of the Olympic qualifying mark of 22.80.

She then abandoned those plans in favour of the much longer distance as she said she feared injury.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis)

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