Semenya Loses Race To Overturn Athletics Ban

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Written By Mohsen Salami

Olympic champion Caster Semenya has failed in her bid to throw out a plan to lower testosterone levels in female runners.

The South African 800m titleholder, 28, took her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas), but saw her arguments against the ban rejected.

She claimed her human rights were infringed as the ban ‘targeted me specifically’.

The ruling means from next week, Semenya and other athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) must take drugs to reduce the amount of male hormone in their bodies if they want to race on the track at distances from 400 metres to a mile.

They may still compete without taking drugs over sprint or longer distances.

“For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of Cas will not hold me back,” said Semenya.

Discrimination is necessary

“I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world.”

Cas decided the ban did discriminate against some athletes, but felt the discrimination was ‘necessary, reasonable and proportionate to protect the integrity of female athletics’.

The International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) devised the ban to take the edge away from woman competitors with excessive male hormones in major competitions.

Around 100 national and international world records are held by women with DSD.

Semenya can still compete in a Diamond League race meet in Doha, Qatar, this week and has leave to appeal on the grounds of wrong procedure within 30 days.

However, few procedural appeals have been won in the past.

What is DSD?

The only other legal avenue open is an appeal to the Court of Human Rights, which could take years to pass through the legal system and cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to pursue.

By the time the result is known, Semenya is likely to have retired from athletics.

DSD applies to people whose bodies have developed as mixed gender.

Typically they have some male and female characteristics that lead to higher levels of testosterone in female athletes that fosters increased muscle mass, stamina and other physiological changes.

From May 8, DSD athletes must show they have kept their testosterone below prescribed levels for at least six months before competing.