Johanesburg – South African track star Caster Semenya has vowed to keeping fighting after losing an appeal in Switzerland's Federal Supreme Court against testosterone regulations for female runners.
The Swiss court dismissed Semenya's appeal against a Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling last year that upheld rules drafted by the athletics governing body placing limits on testosterone.
Under the rules introduced by World Athletics and supported by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, athletes with “differences of sexual development” (DSD) are not allowed to compete between 400m and 1,500m without taking testosterone-reducing drugs.
"After many months of deliberation, the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland has refused to set aside a 2019 ruling against Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The Swiss Supreme Court found that World Athletics’ requirement of subjecting certain female athletes to drug or surgical interventions as a precondition to compete in women’s 400m to 1500m events does not amount to a violation of Swiss public policy," said the court.
As things stand, Semenya will not be able to defend her 800m Olympic title in Tokyo next year.
“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. I know what is right, and will do all I can to protect basic human rights, for young girls everywhere,” Semenya said after the ruling.
South Africa’s Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa said the Swiss court’s decision was “unfortunate” and “offensive” to the fundamental human rights of female athletes classified as hyperandrogenic.
“As the government of a democratic South Africa, a country renowned for its tradition of promoting and protecting basic human rights, together with Athletics SA, we will study the judgement and consider various options and avenues at our disposal in our collective campaign to fight this injustice.
“We call upon all South Africans, Africans and the entire world to rally behind Caster in our quest to defeat injustice against Women in Sport and in particular African Women,” Mthethwa said in a statement.
The World Medical Association also condemned the regulations and called upon doctors and medical scientists across the globe not to partake in their implementation.
Semenya competes in all races affected by the rules - 400m, 800m and 1,500m - hence the argument in some quarters that World Athletics is part of a plot to end the South African’s dominance over those distances.
The 29-year-old won 800m Olympic gold in 2012 and 2016, and was World Champion ain 2009, 2011 and 2017.