Caster Semenya has hit back at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) after losing her landmark case against rules regulating testosterone in female athletes and is considering whether to launch an appeal.
Semenya, a double Olympic champion who has dominated 800m running over the last decade, fought regulations imposed by the IAAF which aims to compel ‘hyperandrogenic’ athletes — or those with ‘differences of sexual development’ (DSD) — to lower their testosterone levels if they wished to compete as women.
The IAAF argued that the rules were essential to preserve a level playing field to ensure all female athletes can see ‘a path to success’.
Double Olympic champion Caster Semenya has lost her landmark case against the IAAF
Matthieu Reeb, General Secretary of CAS, speaks on Wednesday after the decision is made
CAS in Lausanne, Switzerland, heard a week of arguments in the case in February
Semenya’s cause has earned widespread support, including from a global coalition of nations and scientific experts who argue that testosterone is an arbitrary and unfair measure for determining gender.
But CAS said in a statement on Wednesday: ‘By majority, the CAS panel has dismissed the requests for arbitration considering that the claimants were unable to establish that the DSD regulations were ‘invalid’.
‘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.’
Semenya, who fought the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, in February, responded on social media to the ruling with a tweet which read: ‘Sometimes it’s better to react with no reaction.’
She then issued a defiant statement against the decision, saying: ‘I know that the IAAF’s regulations have always targeted me specifically.
‘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 in South Africa and around the world.’
Semenya reacted on Twitter after the CAS ruled in favour of the IAAF
CAS’s verdict stated that such discrimination is a ‘necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics’
The 28-year-old South African athlete is a two-time Olympic gold medalist
CASTER SEMENYA IN NUMBERS
18 – Semenya’s age when she announced her arrival on the global stage by winning 800m gold at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009.
11 – The number of months Semenya was out of competition for following her win in Berlin before being cleared to return by the IAAF after it had ordered her to undergo a gender test.
2 – Her number of Olympic titles.
1:54.25 – Her 800m personal best, making her the fourth fastest woman over the distance in history.
5000m – The event in which Semenya won gold at the South African Championships in April, a new distance for her and one not affected by the IAAF’s regulations on testosterone levels.
3 – Semenya won three titles at the South African Championships in 2016, winning the 400m, 800m and 1500m titles all within the space of four hours.
And a statement released by her legal team following the decision revealed that Semenya is already considering an appeal against the decision.
It read: ‘Caster Semenya is pleased that a unanimous CAS Panel of three arbitrators confirmed that the IAAF’s DSD Regulations are in fact discriminatory against certain women.
‘Ms Semenya is, however, disappointed that two of the three arbitrators concluded that such targeted discrimination is necessary. Ms Semenya is reviewing the decision with her legal team and considering whether to file an appeal.
‘Ms Semenya shares the view of the dissenting CAS arbitrator that the DSD Regulations are unnecessary. Women with differences in sexual development have genetic variations that are conceptually no different than other genetic variations that are celebrated in sport.
‘The IAAF’s basis for discriminating against these women is their natural genetic variations. Ms Semenya believes that women like her should be respected and treated as any other athlete. As is typically the case across sport, her unique genetic gift should be celebrated, not regulated.’
It added: ‘Ms Semenya believes that the dissenting CAS arbitrator will be shown to be correct and the DSD Regulations will be overturned.
‘In the interim, Ms Semenya believes that it is irresponsible for the IAAF to proceed with the implementation of the DSD Regulations in circumstances where the CAS decision makes it abundantly clear that there are serious problems with the Regulations that need to be carefully considered and the DSD Regulations will unquestionably cause harm to the women affected by them.’
But Semenya is already reviewing the decision and deciding whether to launch an appeal
Svein Arne Hansen, president of European Athletics, said on Twitter: ‘I welcome the decision taken by CAS today which ensures governing bodies can continue to protect the female category.
‘This was never about individuals – it’s about the principle of fair play and a level playing field for women and girls.’
The IAAF said it was ‘grateful’ to CAS for its judgment and was ‘pleased’ its regulations had been upheld.
It said the regulations would be coming into effect on May 8.
President of European Athletics Svein Arne Hansen said: ‘I welcome the decision taken by CAS’
As a result, affected athletes hoping to be eligible for the World Championships in Doha in October, have a week to reduce testosterone levels to within the regulation levels, so, the IAAF said, they ‘are encouraged to initiate their suppressive treatment as soon as possible’.
The regulations require athletes to reduce their testosterone levels to below 5 nmol/L for a continuous period of at least six months prior to competition.
But the IAAF said that, because of the delay in implementing the rules caused by Semenya’s legal challenge, it will accept affected athletes who comply with the limit starting on or before May 8 as eligible.
The governing body added: ‘No athlete will be forced to undergo any assessment and/or treatment under these regulations. It is each athlete’s responsibility, in close consultation with her medical team, to decide whether or not to proceed with any assessment and/or treatment.’