Athletics

Caster Semenya to challenge testosterone rule in court

Caster Semenya (Twitter)
Caster Semenya (Twitter)

Cape Town - Two-time South African Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya is challenging a recently introduced IAAF regulation, calling it "discriminatory."

READ: IAAF to Semenya: Lower testosterone levels, or quit

According to the New York Times website, Semenya will on Monday file a legal case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland in an attempt to block a much-debated rule that seeks to limit the permitted testosterone levels in female athletes in races over certain distances.

Semenya, 27, called the rule - which is scheduled to go into effect in November 2018 for races from 400m to one mile - medically unnecessary, “discriminatory, irrational, unjustifiable” and a violation of the rules of sport and universally-recognised human rights.

“I am very upset that I have been pushed into the public spotlight again,” Semenya said in her first extensive remarks about the rule since it was announced in April.

“I don’t like talking about this new rule,” she said. “I just want to run naturally, the way I was born. It is not fair that I am told I must change. It is not fair that people question who I am.”

She continued: “I am Mokgadi Caster Semenya. I am a woman and I am fast.”

The new rule is an attempt by track’s governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), to reinstate regulations governing female athletes with elevated testosterone levels.

The IAAF said in a statement that athletes with differences of sexual development could have a 5-6 percent advantage in performance over athletes with testosterone in the normal female range, “which is an enormous difference in events where milliseconds count. The effects are most clearly seen in races over distances between 400m and one mile, where the combination of increased lean body mass and elevated circulating haemoglobin appears to have the greatest combined impact.”

The new rule would affect women with testosterone levels of five nanomoles per litre and above and would regulate eligibility for major international competitions like the Olympics and world championships.

Most women, including elite female athletes, have natural testosterone levels of 0.12 to 1.79 nanomoles per litre, the IAAF said, while the normal male range after puberty is much higher, at 7.7 to 29.4 nanomoles per litre.

A spokesperson for the IAAF added, “We stand ready to defend the new regulations at the Court of Arbitration should we be asked to do so.”

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