Thu, May 02, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Semenya appeal over testosterone rules dismissed

Reuters, CAPE TOWN

Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya’s appeal to halt the introduction of regulations to limit testosterone in female athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs) was yesterday dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The court ruled that the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) regulations are needed to ensure fair competition between athletes who compete in events ranging from 400m to a mile, previously calling the hearing one of the most important ever to appear before the court.

It means that Semenya and other affected athletes hoping to compete at the World Championships in Doha in September would have to start taking medication to lower their testosterone level to below the required 5 nanomoles per liter within one week.

It is a special concession made by the IAAF due to the length of time it has taken the CAS to reach a verdict.

However, in the future, athletes would be required to have reduced their blood testosterone level to below the stipulated concentration for a period of six months before they can compete.

“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 said in a news release.

“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,’” it added.

However, in a 165-page award, the CAS panel expressed some serious concerns as to the practical application of the DSD regulations.

The case is likely have wide-reaching consequences, not just for the future of athletics, but all women’s sport, and has split opinion around the globe.

The IAAF believes that the regulations are necessary to “preserve fair competition in the female category,” and have received a large amount of support from current and former athletes.

However, the governing body has also been criticized by human rights organizations over its wish to medically alter naturally produced levels of testosterone, with the UN Human Rights Council in March adopting a resolution in support of Semenya.

The South African is to be the highest-profile athlete to be affected, but others include last year’s Olympic silver medalist in the 800m, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi.

Semenya last week took potential steps to reinvent her career, when she won the 5,000m at the South African Athletics Championships with a modest time of 16 minutes, 5.97 seconds an event that would allow her to compete outside of the IAAF regulations.

Other sporting bodies are believed to have kept a close eye on the CAS case and with the precedent in place, might set their own parameters for participation by DSD and transgender athletes in their individual codes.

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