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Caster Semenya can compete in women’s track while appeal proceeds

Caster Semenya can compete in women’s track while appeal proceeds

South Africa's Caster Semenya athletes

The Swiss Supreme Court temporarily blocked a ban on track star Caster Semenya from competing while her appeal proceeds.

In the Monday (3 June) decision, Swiss judges ruled Semenya should be able to ‘compete without restriction in the female category’ for the duration of her appeal.

‘This is an important case that will have fundamental implications for the human rights of female athletes,’ said Semenya’s attorney, Dorothee Schramm.

She described the Swiss court’s ruling as a ‘temporary protection’ for Semenya.

Semenya added her own statement, expressing her gratitude: ‘I am thankful to the Swiss judges for this decision. I hope that following my appeal I will once again be able to run free.’

The history of Semenya’s fight

Semenya is a world-renowed track athlete who competes in the 800 meter.

Her court battle began in May when the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) issued a rule that female athletes with higher testosterone levels would have to take suppressants in order to compete in women’s races. Semenya appealed the rule.

Initially, the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport found in favor of the IAAF. It acknowledged the regulation was discriminatory, but that ‘such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics’.

The court further determined the regulation should only be applied to races up to 800 meters.

When the IAAF issued the new rule, the organization stated ‘most females (including elite female athletes) have low levels of testosterone circulating naturally in their bodies (0.12 to 1.79 nmol (nanomoles)/L (liters) in blood)’.

The normal male range following puberty, meanwhile, is 7.7 – 29.4 nmol/L.

The rule requires female athletes to keep their testosterone levels below 5 nmol/L for six months before a competition. They must also maintain that restriction to continue competing in women’s races.

Semenya refused to take suppressants and IAAF said she would be welcome to enter men’s races.

Where are we now?

At the end of May, she appealed the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s ruling.

‘I am a woman and I am a world-class athlete,’ Semenya said. ‘The IAAF will not drug me or stop me from being who I am.’

This led to the Supreme Court’s ruling today as Semenya’s court battle continues.

See also

Megan Rapinoe is the first openly gay woman in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition

Fans plead with Caster Semenya not to quit following testosterone ruling

UN condemns forcing women athletes to limit testosterone amid intersex row