Athletics

‘Parity and clarity’ of Caster Semenya ruling hailed

IAAF welcomes Swiss court decision, which prevents Olympic champion from defending her 800m title

A Swiss court ruling that blocks double Olympic champion Caster Semenya from defending her 800m world title in Doha creates much-needed "parity and clarity", world athletics' governing body said yesterday.

A judge at the Swiss Federal Tribunal on Monday revoked a temporary suspension on the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) controversial testosterone-curbing rules, meaning Semenya can no longer compete in events between the 400m and mile, as she did in the last two months.

"The IAAF welcomes the Swiss Federal Tribunal's decision today to revoke its Super-Provisional Order of May 31, 2019 after hearing the IAAF's arguments," the IAAF said after the judge's ruling was made public yesterday.

"This decision creates much-needed parity and clarity for all athletes as they prepare for the world championships in Doha, Qatar, next month."

The IAAF added that it would maintain its position in the remainder of proceedings at the Swiss court that "there are some contexts, sport being one of them, where biology has to trump gender identity, which is why the IAAF believes (and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) agreed) that the DSD (differences of sexual development) regulations are a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of protecting fair and meaningful competition in elite female athletics".

Semenya, 28, has refused to take hormone medication and is in the process of appealing against the CAS decision.

A temporary stay of the rule had been granted while that appeal continued, but the Swiss court decided to overturn that decision after finding that the "high threshold" for any suspension had not been fulfilled.

"I am very disappointed to be kept from defending my hard-earned title, but this will not deter me from continuing my fight for the human rights of all of the female athletes concerned," Semenya said in a statement from her representative.

Dorothee Schramm, the lawyer leading the South African's appeal, said they are still hopeful of a permanent lifting of the regulations.

"The judge's procedural decision has no impact on the appeal itself. We will continue to pursue Caster's appeal and fight for her fundamental human rights. A race is always decided at the finish line," Schramm said.

Semenya ran the quickest 800m on United States soil at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting on June 30 in 1 min 55.70sec.

She told reporters afterwards that she would not compete at the world championships if barred from running her preferred distance. - AFP, REUTERS

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