Athletics

Caster Semenya files lawsuit in European Court: 'This fight is not just about me'

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Caster Semenya
Caster Semenya
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South Africa's two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya has filed a lawsuit in the European Court of Human Rights challenging restrictions of testosterone in female athletes, her lawyers said on Thursday.

The World Athletics governing body in 2018 banned Semenya and other female athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) from races between 400 metres and a mile unless they take hormone-suppressing drugs.

Semenya, 30, unsuccessfully challenged those rules at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.

On 19 February, she made another fresh attempt - taking the matter to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

"Semenya's ongoing fight for dignity, equality, and the human rights of women in sport took a crucial step forward with the filing of an application" to the ECHR, her lawyers Norton Rose Fulbright, announced in a statement.

According to the lawyers, she is asking the court to find Switzerland to have "failed in its positive obligations to protect her against the violation of her rights under the European Convention on Human Rights".

Semenya also took to social media on Thursday, saying: "This fight is not just about me, it's about taking a stand and fighting for dignity, equality and the human rights of women in sport. All we ask is to be able to run free as the strong and fearless women we are."

In its judgement last year, the Swiss court concluded that the CAS decision "cannot be challenged".

But Semenya hopes her latest bid will see the European court "put an end to the longstanding human rights violations by World Athletics against women athletes".

"All we ask is to be allowed to run free, for once and for all, as the strong and fearless women we are and have always been," she is quoted as saying in the statement.

No dates have been set yet for the hearing of the case.

Meantime, the athlete is yet to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

She had already decided to compete in the 200m even before the Olympics were postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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