Semenya off the hook for now

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By Colleta Dewa 

Johannesburg - South Africa’s star Olympian Caster Semenya is free to run in international 800 metre races until the result of her Swiss appeal against the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) ruling on the International Association of Athletics Federations IAAF’s testosterone levels decision for female athletes is disclosed.

Semenya’s lawyer, Greg Nott, said the decision was morally uplifting, adding that his team had asked for the suspension when they appealed against the CAS’s ruling in Semenya’s case last week.

“The court has ordered the IAAF to suspend immediately the implementation of the regulation with regard to Caster and has given the IAAF until 25 June to respond to the suspense of effect and it is absolutely positive news,” said Nott.

Semenya was grateful to the Swiss judges for their decision and was hopeful the matter would be dealt with in her favour.

 “I hope that following my appeal I will once again be able to run free,” she said.

 According to Dr Dorothee Schramm, Semenya's Swiss counsel, the case requires careful consideration due to its sensitivity. 

“This is an important case that will have fundamental implications for the human rights of female athletes,” she said.

The ruling is the latest twist in the dispute between Semenya and the IAAF over a policy which requires athletes to reduce their testosterone for at least six months if they want to compete internationally at all distances from 400m to a mile.

Last month, CAS accepted that such a policy was discriminatory to Disorders of Sex Development (DSD) athletes, who are usually born with testes.

 However, it ruled in favour of the IAAF after accepting its argument that high testosterone in female athletes confers significant advantages in size, strength and power from puberty onwards.

In its response, the IAAF expressed ignorance over the latest developments.

“We have received no information from the Swiss federal court so we cannot comment at this stage.”

The Monday ruling has, however, encouraged Semenya’s team that the Swiss federal supreme court could set aside CAS’s decision in its entirety. 

They argue that the IAAF’s policy is unfair and unnecessary, and say unwanted hormonal drug interventions could have uncertain health consequences on athletes.

Semenya is supported by the World Medical Association, which has declared the IAAF regulations to be contrary to their basic ethical principles. 

She is expected to compete in a 2,000m race next week in Paris and then a 3,000m race at the Prefontaine Classic on 30 June. However, she may now decide to have an immediate crack at another 800m – an event in which she is unbeaten since 2015.

 

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