Athletics

Semenya set to appeal against IAAF's testosterone ruling again

Sports court upholds IAAF's impending rule to limit testosterone in female athletes with differences in sexual development

Olympic 800-metres champion Caster Semenya has had an appeal dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to halt the introduction of regulations to limit testosterone in female athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs).

CAS ruled yesterday that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) regulations are needed to ensure fair competition between athletes who compete in events ranging from 400m to a mile, previously calling the hearing one of the most important ever to appear before the court.

It means that Semenya and other affected athletes hoping to compete at the World Championships in Doha in September would have to start taking medication to lower their testosterone level to below the required five nmol/L within one week.

It is a special concession made by the IAAF due to the length of time it has taken CAS to reach a verdict. In future, athletes will be required to reduce their blood testosterone level to below the stipulated concentration for six months before they can compete.

A CAS media release issued yesterday read: "The Panel found that the DSD Regulations are discriminatory, but the majority of the Panel found that, on the basis of the evidence submitted by the parties, such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF's aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics in the Restricted Events."

However, in a 165-page award, the CAS Panel expressed some serious concerns as to the future practical application of these DSD regulations.

ANOTHER APPEAL

After the verdict was announced, Semenya tweeted: "Sometimes it's better to react with no reaction".

She issued a statement later, saying that she is considering another appeal.

She said in the statement: "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..."

The case is likely to have wide-reaching consequences, not just for the future of athletics, but all women's sport.

The IAAF believes the regulations are necessary to "preserve fair competition in the female category", and has received support from current and former athletes.

But it has also been criticised by human rights organisations over their wish to medically alter naturally produced levels of testosterone, with the United Nations Human Rights Council adopting a resolution in support of Semenya in March.

Others athletes affected include 2016 Olympic silver medallist in the 800m, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi. - REUTERS

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