South African Olympic champion and intersex athlete, Caster Semenya, lost her landmark case against rules regulating testosterone in female athletes.
Recall the double Olympic champion who has dominated 800m running in the last decade, fought regulations imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) which aimed to compel ‘hyperandrogenic’ athletes — or those with ‘differences of sexual development’ (DSD) — to lower their testosterone levels if they wished to compete as women.
According to Daily Mail, 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’.
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.’
The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, heard a week of arguments in the case in February.
Going by the judgment, female athletes such as Semenya must now take testosterone suppressants like the contraceptive pill to stay under the permitted level to continue competing as a woman in any running event between the 400m and the mile.
However, Caster Semenya in response to the landmark judgement insists she will not be held back and will “once again rise above” after losing her landmark legal case against the IAAF and its testosterone regulations.
In a statement released by her lawyers, Semenya said: “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.”
The IAAF is adamant its regulations are not targeted towards Semenya, instead arguing the distances the rules apply to were selected because the “performance advantage” of having higher levels of circulating testosterone are “most clearly seen”.
Semenya and ASA argued they should be declared invalid and void with immediate effect. Yet although a CAS panel did consider the regulations to be “discriminatory”, it ruled by majority that “such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics”.
As a result, the IAAF’s DSD regulations are set to come into effect from May 8, meaning Semenya will be required to take medication to reduce her testosterone levels in order to defend her 800m title in September’s World Championships in Doha.
The CAS ruling may be appealed at the Swiss Federal Tribunal within 30 days.
In a statement welcoming the CAS ruling, world athletics’ governing body said: “The IAAF is grateful to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for its detailed and prompt response to the challenge made to its eligibility regulations for the female classification for athletes with differences of sex development, and is pleased that the regulations were found to be a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s legitimate aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics in the restricted events.
“For the avoidance of doubt, 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.”
The CAS panel has suggested the IAAF consider deferring its application of DSD regulations to the 1500m and one mile events “until more evidence is available”.