Swiss Court ruling against Caster Semenya “welcomed” by IAAF

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The Swiss Court’s ruling prevents Semenya from defending her world 800m title. (Matthew Quine).

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), has welcomed a Swiss court ruling that requires three-time world champion Caster Semenya to take testosterone-lowering substances in order to compete in her favoured middle-distance events.

The governing body initially ruled in late April that Semenya would not be allowed to do so unless she took the substances to reduce her testosterone levels, which the South African refused to do.

However, the IAAF’s ruling was officially given the go-ahead by the Swiss Federal Tribunal on Tuesday 30th July, meaning that Semenya looks unable to defend her 800m title from 2017.

In an official statement, the organisation said it “welcomes the Swiss Federal Tribunal’s decision,” adding that it creates much needed parity and clarity for all athletes as they prepare for the World Championships in Doha this September.”

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Initially, new IAAF proposals were blocked on 31st May by Swiss lawmakers, who ruled that the 26-year-old should be allowed to compete without any restrictions while appeal against the organisation was pending.

But now it seems that despite winning two Diamond League races over 800m this year, the latest news will prevent her from competing in any race between the distances of 400m and one mile without lowering her testosterone levels.

In its defence, the Federation states that “there are some contexts, sport being one of them, where biology has to trump gender identity, which is why the IAAF believes (and the CAS agreed) that the differences of sexual development (DSD) regulations are a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of protecting fair and meaningful competition in elite female athletics”.

Semenya meanwhile has vowed she will continue to “fight for the human rights of all of the female athletes concerned.“, despite being “very disappointed to be kept from defending (her) hard-earned title.”

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Events such as the 200m and 5000m (which she won at the South African Championships in May), are still open to the athlete, who last month said:  “I can run any event I want. It can be 100m, 200m, the long jump, heptathlon – you name it.”

However it remains unclear if she will take up a new event in Doha, as she implied that her 5000m race was “just about (her) temper run, seeing how fast I can run in front. It helps me to run a very consistent 800m so that’s fantastic.”

While she hasn’t given up her fight, it seems that for now the multiple Olympic and world champion will spend some time focussing on her current studies at South Africa’s North West University (NWU). On Tuesday, she wrote on Twitter “First chapter of my life done, looking forward to my second chapter.”

It seems the World Athletics Championships, beginning in Doha this year on 28th September, will see a new winner in the women’s 800m.

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