Human Rights Watch calls for IAAF to scrap testosterone rule

Caster Semenya (Getty Images)
Caster Semenya (Getty Images)

Cape Town - The US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) have publicly condemned the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) over their new female classification rule.

The HRW wrote a letter to IAAF President Sebastian Coe saying that the new ruling on regulating testosterone levels discriminates against women.

South Africa's 800m world champion Caster Semenya turned to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last month in her challenge of IAAF rules on testosterone occurring in female athletes that are to be introduced on November 1.

The IAAF announced its new rules targeting women who naturally produce unusually high levels of testosterone in April, arguing that hyper-androgynous competitors enjoy an unfair advantage.

According to the Guardian website, the HRW called upon Coe to "urgently revoke these regulations".

"The IAAF eligibility regulations for the female classification discriminate against women on the basis of their sex and their sex characteristics," wrote the HRW's women's rights director, Liesl Gerntholtz.

"Regulations that call for scrutiny of women's naturally occurring hormone levels are at root a form of judgment and a questioning of women's sex and gender identity. Caster Semenya and the IAAF: if the science is wrong, the ruling is wrong.

"Women with intersex variations have the same rights to dignity and bodily integrity as all women. But the new IAAF regulations coerce some women to undergo unnecessary medical intervention to alter their hormone levels simply because their naturally occurring testosterone is atypical."

READ: Semenya under pressure to better 800m world record

Nonetheless, Semenya continues to brush off the controversy, smashing records and producing strong finishes in the IAAF Diamond League series. 

The double Olympic champion currently sits second on the 800m IAAF Diamond League standings - behind Burundian Francine Niyonsaba and seventh on the 1500m standings.

The 12th leg of the IAAF Diamond League series gets under way on August 18th in Birmingham. 

Click HERE to read the HRW's full letter

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