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  • Semenya Loses Appeal


    09/08/20

    (ATR) Caster Semenya loses her appeal to the Swiss supreme court, which confirms that she must take hormone-suppressing drugs if she wants to compete for a third Olympic gold medal at 800m.

    Caster Semenya could continue to appeal the CAS decision. (SASCOC)
    Semenya and Athletics South Africa were challenging the decision reached on April 30, 2019 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that World Athletics (then the IAAF) was within its rights to impose eligibility regulations for differences of sexual development (DSD) athletes.

    Under the federation's rules, Semenya and other DSD athletes will have to take medication to suppress testosterone levels to compete at distances between 400m and 1500m. However, they could change to shorter or longer distances and still be in compliance.

    At the CAS hearing last year Semenya, who has the condition hyperandrogenism, and Athletics South Africa said the rules forcing athletes with naturally-occurring high levels of testosterone to lower them through medication were discriminatory, unnecessary, unreliable and disproportionate.

    In the legal case, World Athletics had argued that the DSD regulations did not infringe any athlete’s rights, including the right to equal treatment, but instead were a justified and proportionate means of ensuring consistent treatment, and preserving fair and meaningful competition for female runners.

    Despite CAS ruling that the DSD regulations are “discriminatory”, the panel added that “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”.

    Following Tuesday’s court ruling in Switzerland, Semenya said in a statement “I am very disappointed by this ruling, but refuse to let World Athletics drug me or stop me from being who I am.

    “Excluding female athletes or endangering our health solely because of our natural abilities puts World Athletics on the wrong side of history.

    “I will continue to fight for the human rights of female athletes, both on the track and off the track, until we can all run free the way we were born.”

    According to Reuters, one of Semenya’s lawyer said they may take the case to European or other domestic courts. The ruling by the Swiss supreme court is limited to public policy in Switzerland, where CAS is based.

    World Athletics said in a statement "We are very pleased that the highest court in Switzerland has now joined with the highest court in sport in endorsing World Athletics' arguments".

    The federation also noted that the Swiss Federal Tribunal recognized that "the DSD Regulations are not about challenging an individual’s gender identity, but rather about protecting fair competition for all female athletes".

    Written by Gerard Farek

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