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Caster heads to court over testosterone rule

New IAAF policy will target women who naturally produce unusually high levels of testosterone

Caster Semenya at the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 at The London Stadium on August 4, 2017. File picture
Caster Semenya at the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 at The London Stadium on August 4, 2017. File picture
Image: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Olympic champion Caster Semenya will go to court to challenge controversial new rules governing women athletes’ testosterone levels, her lawyers said yesterday.

The new International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) policy will target women who naturally produce unusually high levels of testosterone.

Athletes classified as “hyper-androgynous”, like Semenya, will have to chemically lower their testosterone levels to 5 nanomoles per litre of blood to be eligible to run any international race of 400m up to the mile.

Semenya, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, was expected to bring her case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne yesterday, her lawyers, Norton Rose Fulbright, said in a statement.

She has previously alleged the rules are discriminatory and violate the IAAF’s Constitution and the Olympic Charter.

Semenya has been at the centre of debate because of her powerful physique, one of the effects of hyperandrogynism which causes those affected to produce high levels of male sex hormones.

It is not fair that people question who I am. I am a woman and I am fast
Caster Semenya

The IAAF announced its new rules in April, due to be adopted in November, arguing that hyper-androgynous competitors enjoy an unfair advantage.

“This is a landmark case concerning international human rights and discrimination against women athletes with major consequences for gender rights,” Semenya’s lawyer, Gregory Nott, said.

Semenya, who has undergone several sex tests since her first title in 2009, said the regulations were discriminatory, offensive and intrusive.

“I just want to run naturally, the way I was born. It is not fair that I am told I must change. It is not fair that people question who I am. I am a woman and I am fast,” Semenya said.

She was previously suspended for 11 months over her situation. 

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