Athletics

Semenya lashes out at IAAF in candid column

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

Cape Town - Caster Semenya has lashed out at the IAAF and Sebastian Coe as she remains barred from competing in middle-distance events.

In a candid column on Players Tribune, Semenya talks about the upsetting reaction she received after claiming her first gold at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin in 2009.

"I won the gold... People did not celebrate that. That is not what they said about me. They said that I was a man. That I had an advantage. That my testosterone was too high," she wrote.

"They did not say that I was the first black South African woman to win gold at the world championships. They did not say that I was the best."

Following her 2009 win, Semenya unknowingly underwent a gender test shortly after, which allegedly showed she had both male and female characteristics.

The South African was forced to spend eight months out before the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) cleared her to compete again in July 2010.

Eight years later, the IAAF made a ruling to "ensure fair competition for all women" and argued that athletes with Differences of Sex Development (DSD athletes) - like Semenya - who are born with the "46 XY" chromosome rather than the XX chromosome most females have, would have an advantage in all events.

The new regulations came into force on May 8, 2019 and oblige women with higher than normal male hormone levels to artificially lower their testosterone in distances between 400m and a mile.

Semenya insisted that she would not take any medication to lower her testosterone levels as she is afraid of what it might do to her body.

"I have had to ignore a lot of people in my life and, now, for 10 years as a runner," she wrote.

"They have tested my body. They have tried to make me change my body, to take medicine to lower my testosterone. I do not want to change my body."

Semenya then lashed out at IAAF president Coe.

"Now the president of the IAAF wants to change those rules. It is bull," wrote Semenya.

"But they want to change my body? To put me through shameful tests when I tell them who I am? I am someone's child."

Despite all her ongoing battles with the IAAF and critics, Semenya remains defiant and believes that her legacy is far from over.

"I wanted to be a soldier. And I am in some ways now - fighting for fairness. Fighting for gender rights.

"I wanted to represent my country. I do that every time I run... I wanted to be a hero. I cannot be a hero yet because I am not done," ended Semenya.

READ FULL COLUMN ON PLAYERS TRIBUTE

- Compiled by Lynn Butler

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