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South Africa’s Caster Semenya loses suit against IAAF

South African 800m runner Caster Semenya has lost her all-important suit against International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), over her testosterone levels, in a decision that might determine the future of the athlete.


On a majority decision, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed requests for arbitration filed by the South African runner Semenya, and Athletics South Africa (ASA), against the IAAF regarding Differences in Sexual Development (DSDs).

The ruling means that the 800m Olympic champion will have to take medication to reduce her testosterone if she wants to run internationally at events between 400m and a mile.

The surprise verdict, which was announced on Wednesday after three arbitrators had spent more than two months deliberating over the complex and highly contentious case, came even though CAS agreed that the IAAF’s policy was “discriminatory” to athletes with DSDs such as Semenya.

However two of three arbitrators accepted the IAAF’s argument that high testosterone in female athletes confers significant advantages in size, strength and power from puberty onwards, and said the policy was “necessary, reasonable and proportionate” to ensure fair competition in women’s sport.

It means that all DSD athletes, who are usually born with testes, will have to reduce their testosterone to below five nmol/L for at least six months if they want to compete internationally at distances ranging from 400m to a mile.

The IAAF, which welcomed the news, said their policy would come into place on May 8.

Semenya, who has long argued that her unique genetic gifts should be celebrated not regulated, confirmed that she was considering an appeal and insisted that she believed that the DSD regulations would be one day overturned.

Meanwhile, CAS has described Semenya’s case as “one of the most pivotal” it has ever heard considering that it is considered the highest court in sport, and its decision is regarded as final.
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