Caster vows court decision won't hold her back

Caster Semenya (Gallo)
Caster Semenya (Gallo)

Cape Town - South Africa's star athlete Caster Semenya on Wednesday said the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CSA) to maintain IAAF rules forcing female athletes to regulate their testosterone levels will not hold her back.

READ: Caster Semenya tweets after losing testosterone ruling

"For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of the CAS will not hold me back," she said in a statement released by her legal team.

The double Olympic champion went to court to fight rules imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that compel "hyperandrogenic" athletes - or those with "differences of sexual development" (DSD) - to lower their testosterone levels if they wish to compete as women.

The statement said she was "pleased" to note that the three judges admitted that the IAAF's regulations are "discriminatory against certain women".

But she was disappointed that they went ahead and concluded that the targeted discrimination was necessary.

"I know that the IAAF’s regulations have always targeted me specifically," she said.

The statement said Semenya believes that the regulations "will be overturned", but it was not immediately clear if she will appeal the court's decision. 

She has 30 days to appeal, in a challenge that would be heard by the Swiss Federal Tribunal. 

READ: Caster could have a shot at a medal, just not in the 800m

Full statement from Caster Semenya's legal team below:

Caster Semenya is pleased that a unanimous CAS Panel of three arbitrators confirmed that the IAAF’s DSD Regulations are in fact discriminatory against certain women. Ms Semenya is, however, disappointed that two of the three arbitrators concluded that such targeted discrimination is necessary. Ms Semenya is reviewing the decision with her legal team and considering whether to file an appeal.

Ms Semenya shares the view of the dissenting CAS arbitrator that the DSD Regulations are unnecessary. Women with differences in sexual development have genetic variations that are conceptually no different than other genetic variations that are celebrated in sport. The IAAF’s basis for discriminating against these women is their natural genetic variations. Ms Semenya believes that women like her should be respected and treated as any other athlete. As is typically the case across sport, her unique genetic gift should be celebrated, not regulated.

Ms Semenya also agrees with the concerns expressed by the unanimous CAS panel about: (i) difficulties implementing and complying with the DSD Regulations; (ii) the absence of concrete evidence supporting the inclusion of certain events under the DSD Regulations; and (iii) the negative and harmful side effects of medical treatment experienced by athletes subject to the DSD Regulations who wish to continue in women’s competition. 

Ms Semenya believes that the dissenting CAS arbitrator will be shown to be correct and the DSD Regulations will be overturned. In the interim, Ms Semenya believes that it is irresponsible for the IAAF to proceed with the implementation of the DSD Regulations in circumstances where the CAS decision makes it abundantly clear that there are serious problems with the Regulations that need to be carefully considered and the DSD Regulations will unquestionably cause harm to the women affected by them.

Ms Semenya encourages the IAAF to commission a team of fully independent experts to produce an unbiased assessment of the need for and methods of regulation before implementing what she believes are harmful rules that will negatively impact the well-being of athletes around the world. Critically, Ms Semenya is not alone in this view, and has been supported by the United Nations Human Rights Council and three United Nations Special Rapporteurs (who filed an amicus brief supporting her appeal), as well as independent medical, scientific, legal and other experts from around the world.

Ms Semenya will continue her efforts to ensure fair competition for women and to protect other women like her from unfair discrimination. She stated: “I know that the IAAF’s regulations have always targeted me specifically. For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of the CAS will not hold me back. I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world.” 

Caster Semenya expresses her deep gratitude to the international team of advisors that assisted her in her CAS case, and to the South African government, to the South African public, to the generous donors who have supported her, and to others around the world who have shown their support in these challenging times.

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