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S. African Runner Caster Semenya Files an Appeal to Uphold Testosterone Regulations

``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"

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testosterone, caster semenya
South Africa's Caster Semenya competes in the women's 800-meter final during the Diamond League in Doha, Qatar, May 3, 2019. VOA

South African runner Caster Semenya filed an appeal Wednesday against the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to uphold testosterone regulations for some female athletes in track and field.

Attorneys for the two-time Olympic 800-meter champion said she lodged an appeal with the Swiss Federal Tribunal, Switzerland’s supreme court. CAS, sport’s highest court, is based in Switzerland. Semenya’s appeal focuses on “fundamental human rights,” the attorneys said.

Under the International Association of Athletics Federations’ new rules, upheld by the CAS this month, Semenya is not allowed to run in international races from 400 meters to one mile unless she medically lowers her natural testosterone levels. She said after the CAS decision that she would not take medication and repeated her defiance in Wednesday’s statement announcing her appeal.

“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.” Semenya, 28, who is also a three-time world champion, is one of a number of female athletes with medical conditions known as differences of sex development that cause high levels of natural testosterone. The IAAF says that gives them an advantage over other female athletes because of testosterone’s ability to help athletes build muscle and carry more oxygen in their blood.

Hormone-suppressing medication

testosterone, caster semenya
“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.” Wikimedia Commons

The IAAF requires Semenya and others affected by the rules to take hormone-suppressing medication or have surgery if they want to compete in the restricted events. That’s been labeled unethical by leading medical experts, including the World Medical Association, which represents doctors across the world.

Semenya’s attorneys said that “the Swiss federal supreme court will be asked to consider whether the IAAF’s requirements for compulsory drug interventions violate essential and widely recognized public policy values, including the prohibition against discrimination, the right to physical integrity, the right to economic freedom and respect for human dignity.”

Decisions made by CAS can be appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal on only a very limited number of grounds. One of them is a ruling that possibly violates a person’s human rights.

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Semenya’s attorneys could also seek a temporary suspension of the IAAF rules, which came into effect May 8, to allow her to defend her 800 title at the world championships in Doha, Qatar, in September. The testosterone regulations specify that athletes must reduce their testosterone levels to a level decided by the IAAF for six months consistently before being allowed to run in international events.

Under the current regulations, Semenya can’t run the 800 or 1,500 meters, her favorite events, at any Diamond League meets this season or the world championships. (VOA)

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Study Says, Excess Physical Activity Can Be Harmful for Athletes

The researchers believe that fatigue and reduced cognitive control might also constitute the first stage in the development of a "burnout syndrome"

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Athletes
This excessive physical activity in Athletes leads to reduced activity of the lateral prefrontal cortex (a key region for cognitive control), similar to that observed during mental effort. Pixabay

Researchers have found that, in top Athletes, excess physical activity could be harmful and also associated with major fatigue and reduced performances.

The study published in the journal Current Biology shows that intensive physical training could harm brain capacity, particularly cognitive control.

For the findings, Mathias Pessiglione and his team from Inserm Research Institute in France said that they were interested in identifying the causes of a common phenomenon in top athletes, known as “overtraining syndrome”.

This was characterised by reduced athletic performance and intense fatigue.

Athletes suffering from this syndrome might be tempted by products likely to restore their performance.

The primary hypothesis of the researchers were clear: the fatigue caused by overtraining is similar to that caused by mental efforts.

To test this idea, the team spent nine weeks working with 37 triathletes, who were split into two groups.

The first underwent the “usual” high-level training whereas the second had additional training during the last three weeks of the experiment, with sessions lasting 40 per cent longer, on average.

From this, the researchers were able to identify similarities between overly intensive physical training and excessive mental work.

Athletes
Researchers have found that, in top Athletes, excess physical activity could be harmful and also associated with major fatigue and reduced performances. Pixabay

This excessive physical activity leads to reduced activity of the lateral prefrontal cortex (a key region for cognitive control), similar to that observed during mental effort.

This reduction in brain activity was associated with impulsive decision-making, in which short-term gratification was prioritised over long-term goals.

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In the case of top athletes, being this impulsive could lead to their decision to stop right in the middle of a performance or to abandon a race in order to end the pain felt during physical exertion.

The researchers believe that fatigue and reduced cognitive control might also constitute the first stage in the development of a “burnout syndrome”, which affects many people across various professional sectors. (IANS)