Lausanne - The
Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on Tuesday it had opened a probe
into Caster Semenya's challenge of controversial new IAAF rules on
testosterone occurring in female athletes.
CAS said it had "registered a request for arbitration" filed by the
South African two-time Olympic gold medallist against the "International
Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) 'Eligibility Regulations
for Female Classification (Athletes with Differences of Sex
Development)' that are due to come into effect on November 1, 2018".
Semenya, CAS said, sought a "ruling from CAS to declare such
regulations unlawful and to prevent them from being brought into force.
An arbitration procedure has been opened".
The IAAF announced its new rules targeting women who naturally
produce unusually high levels of testosterone in April, arguing that
hyper-androgynous competitors enjoy an unfair advantage.
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 400 metres up
to the mile.
Semenya, who has undergone several sex tests since her first title in
2009, has called the rules discriminatory and violate the IAAF's
Constitution and the Olympic Charter.
The 27-year-old has been at the centre of debate because of her
powerful physique, one of the effects of hyper-androgenism which causes
those affected to produce high levels of male sex hormones.
The IAAF said it stood "ready to defend the new regulations".
"Sex differences in physical attributes such as muscle size and
strength and circulating haemoglobin levels give male athletes an
insurmountable competitive advantage over female athletes in sports
where size, strength and power matter," the IAAF said in a statement.
"These advantages (which translate, in athletics, to an average
10-12% performance difference across all disciplines) make competition
between men and women as meaningless and unfair as an adult competing
against a child or a heavyweight boxer competing against a flyweight.
Only men would qualify for elite-level competition; the best female
athlete would not come close to qualifying."
The IAAF added that evidence suggested that having levels of
circulating testosterone in the normal male range rather than in the
normal female range, and being androgen-sensitive, gave a female athlete
a performance advantage of at least 5-6% over a female athlete with
testosterone levels in the normal female range.