IAAF hails 'parity and clarity' after Semenya ruling

2019-07-31 12:19
caster semenya
Caster Semenya (AP)

Paris - A Swiss court ruling that blocks South African Caster Semenya from defending her world 800m title in Doha in September creates much-needed "parity and clarity" in athletics, the sport's governing body said on Wednesday.

A judge at the Swiss Federal Tribunal on Monday revoked a temporary suspension on the IAAF's controversial testosterone-curbing rules, meaning two-time Olympic champion Semenya can no longer compete in events between the 400m and mile, as she did in June and July.

"The IAAF welcomes the Swiss Federal Tribunal's decision today to revoke its Super-Provisional Order of 31 May 2019 after hearing the IAAF's arguments," the International Association of Athletics Federations said after the judge's ruling was made public Wednesday.

"This decision creates much-needed parity and clarity for all athletes as they prepare for the World Championships in Doha this September."

Semenya had appealed to the Swiss court in May after failing to get the new IAAF regulations overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The IAAF added that it would maintain its position in the remainder of proceedings at the Swiss Federal Tribunal 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 DSD (differences of sexual development) regulations are a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of protecting fair and meaningful competition in elite female athletics".

Semenya is classified as a woman, was raised as a woman and races as a woman.

But for the IAAF, women like Semenya, with certain masculine attributes due to DSD, are classified, biologically, as men. It is a position hotly contested by South African officials.

In the build-up to the 2009 world championships in Berlin, where Semenya went on to win gold in the 800m, the South African had to undergo gender verification testing to confirm her eligibility to compete in the women's category.

She was subsequently put on medication to reduce her testosterone levels, spending six months sidelined by the IAAF.

Semenya, born with the "46 XY" chromosome rather than the XX chromosome most females have, described the experience as like that of being treated like a "human guinea pig" and vowed never to again allow the IAAF to enforce medication upon her in order to compete.

The Swiss Federal Tribunal, in its ruling released on Wednesday, was also not optimistic for Semenya's ongoing appeal.

It concluded "in a first summary examination, that Caster Semenya's appeal does not appear with high probability to be well founded".

"The CAS, after thoroughly evaluating the expert evidence, found that the '46 XY DSD' characteristic has a direct impact on performance in sport, which could never be achieved by other women," the tribunal said.

"Thus, with the participation of a female athlete with '46 XY DSD' in the 'protected class women', a basic principle of top-class sports, namely fair competition, is disregarded from the outset."

Semenya on Tuesday expressed her disappointment at being ruled out of defending her title, adding: "This will not deter me from continuing my fight for the human rights of all of the female athletes concerned."

She later tweeted: "People can be mean. Don't take it personally. It says nothing about you, but a lot about them."

Semenya followed that up on Wednesday by saying: "Determined spirit is unstoppable."

Timeline of South Africa's double Olympic champion Caster Semenya, who is disputing new IAAF regulations on female testosterone levels, but has been blocked from defending her world 800m title in Doha in September:

July 2009

Semenya, then 18, wins gold in the 800m at African Junior Championships, the fastest time of the year

August 2009

Shortly before the world championships in Berlin, Semenya unknowingly takes a gender test. She goes on to win gold, bettering her world-lead time. News of her test is then leaked

November 2009

Reports that Semenya's test in Berlin showed she had both male and female characteristics

July 2010

After eight months out, the IAAF clear Semenya to compete

August 2012

Semenya wins 800m silver at London Olympics, later upgraded to gold after Russian winner Mariya Savinova is banned for life for doping. Semenya is also awarded 2011 world gold

July 2014

The IAAF ban Indian sprinter Dutee Chand after a test reveals high levels of testosterone

March 2015

Chand challenges IAAF's so-called gender tests

July 2015

Chand is cleared to compete and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) suspends, for two years, an earlier version of IAAF rules requiring female athletes to take testosterone-suppressing medication

August 2016

Semenya wins 800m gold in Rio Olympics

April 2018

The IAAF introduces new rules for female athletes with naturally high testosterone competing in events from the 400m to mile

June 2018

Semenya says she will go to CAS to challenge IAAF rules, which she calls unfair

May 2019

Semenya loses challenge at CAS, but appeals to Swiss federal supreme court

June 2019

Swiss court temporarily suspends IAAF rules, freeing Semenya to compete. The IAAF vows to fight the ruling.

Semenya wins the rarely-run 2,000m in Montreuil, Paris, before also triumphing in the 800m at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meet on June 30

July 2019

Swiss court blocks Semenya from defending her 800m title at the September 28-October 6 world championships in Doha, revoking the temporary suspension of IAAF rules handed down in June

Read more on:    caster semenya  |  athletics


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