South Africa's Caster Semenya set a meet record in the 800m at the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon yesterday, but controversy swirls about a rule that could limit her racing over the distance.

Semenya is a two-time Olympic and three-time world champion over 800m. She defended her Prefontaine title in 1m 55.92s, the top mark in the world this year. American Ajee Wilson was second in 1m 56.86s.

The IAAF, track and field's international governing body, announced last month it would limit entry for all international events from 400m to the mile to women with testosterone levels below a specified level.

The rule comes in to effect on November 1. South Africa has said it may challenge the rule in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.


Semenya was asked afterwards about the rule. "I'm not going to talk about it, because I'm here to perform," she said. "To be honest, I'm just an athlete, you know? There's nothing I can do, there's nothing I can say."

Semenya was among the sport's highest-profile athletes at the only US stop on the international Diamond League series.

Semenya, 27, said the 800m world record was the goal, "maybe this year". The record is 1m 53.28s, set in 1983 by Jarmila Kratochovilova of the then Czechoslovakia. Semenya's best time is 1m 55.16s.

When the IAAF's decision was announced, the South African Olympic body's president said it was "disappointed by the IAAF ruling, and especially given that Caster's name is again being dragged through the publicity mill".

The IAAF maintained there was "broad medical and scientific consensus, supported by peer-reviewed data and evidence" to back its position.

- AP