Semenya is fighting to run free, her genetic gift should be celebrated - lawyers

2019-02-14 19:26
caster semenya
Caster Semenya (AP)

Cape Town - Caster Semenya is demanding that she be "respected and treated as any other athlete", her lawyers said in a statement released on Thursday.

This followed a report by the IAAF suggesting that the world and Olympic 800m champion is a "biological male".

Semenya is currently challenging a proposed rule by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that aims to restrict the levels of testosterone in female runners.

Her hearing, which was postponed, will reportedly take place next week, with the possible start of the IAAF's rule on March 26.

"Semenya's genetic gift should be celebrated, not discriminated against"

On Wednesday, The Times reported that IAAF lawyers will argue that Semenya is a "biological male" as well as classified as female.

However, the IAAF on Thursday denied the report, saying that it is "not classifying" any athlete with "differences of sexual development" (DSD) as male.

IAAF denies it will tell court Semenya should be classed as male

Athletics' governing body has denied it will tell a court female athletes with high testosterone levels like Caster Semenya should be classified as male.

Semenya's legal firm Norton Rose Fulbright responded to the IAAF's statement saying that although the athlete cannot discuss the case publicly, she wants to be "respected and treated as any other athlete".

"Semenya looks forward to responding to the IAAF at the upcoming CAS hearing," said the statement.

"The arbitration proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport are confidential and Semenya is not permitted to discuss the case publicly. This includes referring to any submission or position that may or may not have been taken by any party within the confidential proceeding.

"She asks that she be respected and treated as any other athlete: Her genetic gift should be celebrated, not discriminated against.

"Semenya respects the rights and interests of transgender athletes around the world. Her case, however, is about the rights of women such as Semenya who are born as women, reared and socialised as women, who have been legally recognised as women for their entire lives, who have always competed in athletics as women, and who should be permitted to compete in the female category without discrimination.

"Semenya is fighting for her right to run without being required to undergo unnecessary medical intervention. She is fighting to run free."

The IAAF rules will apply to women in track events from 400m up to the mile and require that athletes have to keep their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount "for at least six months prior to competing".

The delay means may see Semenya miss most of the 2019 outdoor season.

Meanwhile, Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa is set to hold a briefing on the matter on Friday morning.

Read more on:    iaaf  |  caster semenya  |  athletics


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