Thursday November 21, 2019

Swiss Court Orders IAAF to Suspend Testosterone Regulations

The suspension of the IAAF regulations is the latest in a line of legal disputes between the South African 800-meter runner and the governing body for track and field

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South Africa's Caster Semenya takes a selfie with fans after winning gold in the women's 1500m final at Carrara Stadium during the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, April 10, 2018. VOA

Two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya is temporarily allowed to compete without lowering her testosterone levels, following a ruling by Switzerland’s supreme court.

The court ordered the International Association of Athletics Federations to temporarily suspend their regulations until the organization makes its arguments to the court. The suspension of the IAAF regulations is the latest in a line of legal disputes between the South African 800-meter runner and the governing body for track and field.

Hyperandrogenism

In April 2018, the IAAF put in places rules requiring women with higher-than-normal testosterone levels — known as hyperandrogenism — to artificially lower the hormone level in their bodies if they wanted to compete in distance races between 400 meters to a mile.

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

“This is an important case that will have fundamental implications for the human rights of female athletes,” Dorothee Schramm, the Swiss-based lawyer leading Semenya’s appeal, said after the ruling. Semenya challenged the regulation and ultimately lost her case in the Court of Arbitration for Sport last month.

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

“Necessary, reasonable, proportionate”

The court then acknowledged that the IAAF regulations were discriminatory, but that the regulations were “necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics in the restricted events.”

Following the CAS ruling, Semenya appealed to the Switzerland supreme court. Semenya is still appealing the CAS ruling to get the IAAF testosterone rules permanently stricken. (VOA)

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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

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“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)