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Caster Semenya can continue running in 800m race without drugs – for now

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The Swiss Supreme Court has temporarily allowed Caster Semenya to continue competing in the 800-metre race without taking testosterone suppressants, pending the court’s verdict on Semenya’s appeal.

On Monday, 3 June 2019, the double Olympic champion’s lawyers announced that Semenya was granted permission to continue competing in her favoured 800 metres event without having to take medication to lower her testosterone levels.

“The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland has ordered the IAAF to immediately suspend the implementation of the eligibility regulations against Caster Semenya, allowing her to compete without restriction in the female category while her appeal is pending,” a statement from Semenya’s lawyers said.

“The Swiss Supreme Court has granted welcome temporary protection to Caster Semenya. This is an important case that will have fundamental implications for the human rights of female athletes,” added Dorothee Schramm of Sidley Austin LLP, Swiss counsel for Semenya.

This follows after Semenya had challenged the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) ruling in favour of the International Association for Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) proposed rule to force athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs) to take testosterone-suppressing drugs, should they wish to compete in events ranging from 400 metres to a mile. Backed by Athletics South Africa (ASA), Semenya took to the Swiss Supreme Court to appeal the ruling passed by CAS.

Although no time frame has been stipulated for when a final ruling will be made, the IAAF is still to make further submissions to the court. It, however, says that it has not been notified of the suspension.

“We have received no information from the Swiss Federal Court, so we cannot comment at this stage,” an IAAF spokesperson said.

Speaking through her lawyers, Semenya said she remains hopeful of her appeal being successful.

“I am thankful to the Swiss judges for this decision. I hope that following my appeal, I will once again be able to run free,” she said.

Abenathi Gqomo

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