South Africa’s Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya said on Tuesday, 19 February 2019, that proposed IAAF rules that would oblige her to lower her testosterone levels “do not empower anyone” in athletics.
The South African athlete appeared at the Swiss Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne on Monday, 18 February 2019, at the start of a landmark hearing to challenge the rules proposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
The South African government said the rules specifically targeted Semenya and has called them a “gross violation” of her human rights.
The controversial measures would force so-called “hyperandrogenic” athletes like Semenya, or those with “differences of sexual development” (DSD), to seek treatment to lower their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount if they wish to continue competing as women.
A statement issued by Semenya’s legal team said she believes “she and other women affected by the regulations should be permitted to compete in the female category without discrimination” and that they should be “celebrated for their natural talents as are all other athletes with genetic variations.”
The statement continued: “The IAAF’s regulations do not empower anyone. Rather, they represent yet another flawed and hurtful attempt to police the sex of female athletes.”
The IAAF said it was introducing the rules to create a “level playing field” for other female runners. But the South African government said the IAAF rules were discriminatory against Semenya as an African woman.
The track and field body said: “If a DSD athlete has testes and male levels of testosterone, they get the same increases in bone and muscle size and strength and increases in haemoglobin that a male gets when they go through puberty, which is what gives men such a performance advantage over women.”