PARIS, October 30- Gender testing queries resembling the case of South Africa's women's 800 metres world champion Caster Semenya must be dealt with more swiftly, British athletics legend Lord Sebastian Coe said Thursday.The 53-year-old two-time Olympic 1500 metres champion, who is a member of the International Athletics Associations Federation (IAAF) Council, said that speedy action would protect the athlete as much as the integrity of the sport.
The 18-year-old Semenya was plunged into the spotlight not because she won the women’s 800m title in dominating fashion in Berlin in August but because question marks were raised over her gender which were furiously denied by the South African Athletics Federation.
However, it was later revealed that she had already undergone tests prior to the championships at the behest of her federation but was allowed to compete nevertheless.
Coe, a former Conservative Party Member of Parliament who now heads up the organising of the 2012 Olympics in London, said in a telephone conference call that all the fuss could have been avoided if his measures were in place.
"I think it is crucial that the IAAF have the ability to deal with such a situation as Caster Semenya’s," said Coe, who also took Olympic silver in the 800m at the 1980 and 1984 Games.
"It is a complicated situation both scientificallyand and sensitively speaking.
"It is a matter that polarises people and has been a debate for far too long that people have not wanted to grasp.
"Where maybe initial investigations are not too conclusive then we must always act quickly to protect the athlete.
"We have to confront what is a very serious matter.
"We should put in place a protocol that is very tough and without the need for a five to six month investigation. This is one of the highest profile cases we have come across."
However, Coe, widely seen as the mastermind behind the successful bid by London to beat favourites Paris to host the Olympics when it was voted on in Singapore in 2005, would not comment directly on Semenya’s case and as to whether she could have been afforded more protection.
It was revealed a fortnight ago that all the furore surrounding her tests had made her so upset that she could not sit her university sports science exams.
"I will not go into any detail on this particular case because that is a matter of discussion between the IAAF and the South African Federation," said Coe.