Caster’s reign may be ended by new IAAF rules

Caster Semenya celebrates winning gold in the Women’s 1500 metres final at the Commonwealth Games
Caster Semenya celebrates winning gold in the Women’s 1500 metres final at the Commonwealth Games
Image: Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

Caster Semenya will need to reduce her natural testosterone levels, by use of daily hormonal contraceptives‚ if her future times on the track are to be valid for record purposes – or if she intends to defend her Olympic and World titles over 800m‚ according to proposed new rules.

The IAAF‚ the governing body of world athletics‚ is piloting new eligibility regulations for a separate female classification to be known as an Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development (or DSDs)‚ which will directly impact on Semenya.

However, the regulations‚ expected to be confirmed tomorrow‚ may end up in the Court of Arbitration for Sport‚ should an athlete challenge them.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suspects a legal challenge may be mounted.
The new regulations are set to come into effect on November 1‚ to allow female athletes with DSDs a six-month “compliance” period‚ whereby they must undergo the testosterone reduction should they wish to avoid having to stand down from competition once the regulations come into effect‚ according to the Irish Times. The new DSDs rule also replaces the IAAF’s previous regulations governing eligibility of females with hyperandrogenism.

The New Zealand Herald reports that the IAAF decision is expected to force Semenya either to take medication to reduce her naturally occurring testosterone levels or move to longer-distance events.

It said the new rules would apply to any distance from 400m to the mile‚ meaning Semenya could switch to the 5 000m and 10 000m if she refuses to take medication, which can be used on a daily basis in tablet form.

Earlier this month‚ Semenya secured a golden double at the Commonwealth Games, winning the 800m and the 1 500m titles in Games record times and also breaking Zola Budd’s 34-year-old national mark in the 1 500m.

Semenya‚ the Olympic and world 800m champion‚ was first placed in the spotlight in 2009 with the IAAF saying she had undergone a gender verification process.