Caster Semenya needs delayed IAAF ruling upheld

Caster Semenya can keep running without medication until the appeal is decided. Picture: Francois Nel / Getty Images
Caster Semenya can keep running without medication until the appeal is decided. Picture: Francois Nel / Getty Images

Caster is disappointed to be distracted by the off-track goings-on, says her lawyer

Caster Semenya’s appeal to the Swiss Federal Court will in all likelihood be heard towards the end of the year, a source has said.

This was as a result of the Swiss tribunal temporarily suspending the implementation of regulations aimed at restricting testosterone levels in woman runners – by the IAAF.

The order means Olympic champion Semenya can run in her specialist 800m event without taking medication to artificially reduce her natural testosterone levels, until the ruling of her appeal.

The source said that, if the suspension order granted by the court last Monday was upheld prior to the appeal hearing, and before the IAAF World Championships in Qatar later this year, Semenya would be able to defend her 800m title.

This could mean that, in the interim, the 28-year-old could resume her competition over the two-lapper in the Diamond League, where she has already competed in one race so far – in Doha on May 3.

Semenya’s lawyer, Greg Nott, said: “We all know Caster as an incredible international athlete. Whatever [distance] she runs, we know she will compete to the best of her ability.

“She is disappointed to be distracted by the off-track goings-on, but she remains steadfast and focused.”

The latest decision by the courts to suspend the IAAF’s controversial rules makes for a complex situation for the world athletics governing body.

This could negatively affect the IAAF’s planned timelines for eligibility ahead of the global track-and-field competition that takes place in Doha from September 27 to October 6.

The regulations require “classified athletes” who compete in the 400m to a mile to “reduce blood testosterone level to below five nanomoles per litre for a continuous period of at least six months”.

Semenya’s legal team is challenging the IAAF on human rights grounds.

They have the backing of the South African government through the department of sport, as well as from various quarters of the international community, who argue that enforcing the IAAF’s so-called difference of sexual development rule was discriminatory.

The World Medical Association said the regulations would border on breaking ethical codes.

In response to the Swiss court order, the IAAF said it would seek a “swift reversion of the super-provisional order … to avoid serious confusion among athletes and event organisers, and to protect the integrity of the sport”.

The IAAF said the suspension of regulations applied only to Semenya and would be in effect until June 25.

This is the date by which the IAAF must respond to the court on the marathon case.

The IAAF claimed that the federal court’s decision was ex parte, meaning that it was requested and issued without the athletics governing body’s knowledge.

“The IAAF did not receive the appellant’s filings or the order until today so has not had the chance to explain why the ‘difference of sexual development’ regulations should remain in force and be applicable to all affected athletes while the appeal is pending,” it said.

Last month, Semenya filed an appeal to the Swiss Federal Court after the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne upheld the IAAF’s rules that came into effect on May 8.

Dorothee Schramm of Sidley Austin LLP, the Swiss counsel for Semenya, said: “This is an important case that will have fundamental implications for the human rights of female athletes.”

The reigning world 800m champion expressed her gratitude to the Swiss judges for the latest decision.

“I hope that following my appeal I will once again be able to run free,” the Limpopo-born middle-distance runner said.

Semenya will compete in a rarely run 2 000m race in Montreuil, France, on Tuesday.

She has also entered the 3 000m final at the Diamond League in the US, the Prefontaine Classic, on June 30.

Her time of 1:54.98 at the Doha Diamond competition remains the fastest 800m mark in the worldthis year.

As things now stand, it means Semenya can run her specialist 800m event at any of the upcoming Diamond League meetings. That is, if she is invited, while her case is pending.

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