By Duncan Mackay

January 16 - Caster Semenya (pictured) should not be prevented from competing because she has done nothing wrong, her lawyer warned tonight as South Africa's leading sports official claimed that she could not run again until the row over her gender has been resolved.

Gideon Sam, the President of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), had said today that the world 800 metres champion could not compete again until the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had concluded its investigation the results of her gender.

But Gregory Nott, her Johannesburg-based lawyer with the firm Dewey & LeBoeuf, has hit back with a statement claiming that Semenya should not be prevented from taking part in South Africa's domestic track and field circuit.

He said: "It is clear that our client's rights are once again being infringed.

"Caster is a world champion.

"She has committed no wrongdoing.

"On the contrary, she has competed with the best and won.

"Her medal is confirmed as is her prize money and her record stands.

"She has not been disqualified to participate in any future athletics meetings."

Dewey & LeBoeuf and the IAAF are currently engaged in negotiations to try to reach a conclusion to the impasse which has prevented Semenya from competing since she won the world title in Berlin last August.

Nott said: "Naturally, her continued athletic career is one which needs to be safeguarded.

"We believe that this can be done if a settlement is achieved.

"This route affords the best possible means to maintain harmonious relationships with the body under which she will continue to run.

"We continue to have faith in the negotiation process, and we hope that this can be achieved shortly.

"We trust that until this is achieved her rights will be respected by all bodies, local and international.

"We continue to hope for and work towards full resolution with the IAAF."

Jeffrey Kessler, the chairman of Dewey & LeBoeuf's Global Litigation Department, said: "We will continue to do everything necessary to insure that Caster receives the dignity and respect to which she is entitled, and that she is treated fairly in the same manner as all other athletes."

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