Caster Semenya has reacted with disappointment to the latest legal ruling, confirming her banning from competing in events from 400m to a mile, but has vowed to continue ‘fighting for the human rights of female athletes’.
Team SA’s double Olympic 800m champion appears to have lost her long-running battle against regulations requiring women with high testosterone to take medication to compete internationally between 400m and a mile. A Swiss federal tribunal said that it supported a decision by the court of arbitration for sport last year that track and field’s policy for athletes with differences in sex development (DSD) was ‘necessary, reasonable and proportionate’ to ensure fair competition in women’s sport.
‘Based on these findings, the Cas decision cannot be challenged,’ the tribunal said. ‘Fairness in sport is a legitimate concern and forms a central principle of sporting competition. It is one of the pillars on which competition is based.’
Chills my people,A man can change the rules but the very same man can not rule my life,What I’m saying is that I might have failed against them the truth is that I have won this battle long ago,Go back to my achievements then you will understand.Doors might be closed not locked.
— Caster Semenya (@caster800m) September 8, 2020
It now looks impossible for Semenya, the London 2012 and Rio 2016 gold medallist, to defend her title in Tokyo. She responded to the news by accusing World Athletics of being on the ‘wrong side of history’.
‘I am very disappointed by this ruling, but refuse to let World Athletics drug me or stop me from being who I am,’ she said. ‘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.’
World Athletics implemented a new policy for DSD athletes, including Semenya, that compelled them to reduce their testosterone levels to less than 5 nmol/L if they wanted to compete in elite events between 400m and a mile.
It argued the policy was justified because more than 99% of females have around 0.12-1.79 nmol/L of testosterone in their bodies – while DSDs are in the male range of 7.7-29.4 nmol/L. Last year Cas upheld that policy, saying it was fair because DSD athletes, including Semenya, had a significant advantage in size, strength and power from puberty onwards because of their elevated testosterone levels.
In a statement World Athletics said it was ‘very pleased’ that the highest court in Switzerland had joined with the highest court in sport in endorsing its arguments.
Semenya could still appeal to the European court of human rights.