Castor Semenya after losing appeal: ” I will once again rise”

South African 800m athletics champion, Castor Semenya will have to reduce her testosterone levels if she wants to continue participating in international competitions that are between 400 meters and a mile.

Semenya has 30 days to appeal, in a challenge that would be heard by the Swiss Federal Tribunal. 

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed Semenya’s appeal against the athletics governing body, International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) decision to implement new rules that will compel female athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) to reduce their testosterone levels in order to continue competing.

Read more about DSD

Castor Semenya 800m South African Champion Photo courtesy of AW

The decision, taken on Wednesday by a panel of  judges after months on deliberating the matter, has shocked many.

The judges ruled out the “discriminatory” nature of the laws set by the IAAF. The court said “such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics”. In spite of the criticism IAAF has received from humanitarian groups, experts and scientists, it maintains that the case is not about racism or violating women’s bodies but about fairness.

However, CAS has pointed out that the practical application of the DSD regulations raises many serious concerns.

The Concerns were detailed as Follows:

1) The difficulties of implementation of the DSD regulations in the context of a maximum permitted level of testosterone. The panel noted the strict liability aspect of the DSD regulations and expressed its concern as to an athlete’s potential inability to remain in compliance with the DSD regulations in periods of full compliance with treatment protocols, and, more specifically, the resulting consequences of unintentional non-compliance.

2) The difficulty to rely on concrete evidence of actual (in contrast to theoretical) significant athletic advantage by a sufficient number of 46 XY DSD athletes in the 1500m and 1 mile events. The CAS panel suggested that the IAAF consider deferring the application of the DSD regulations to these events until more evidence is available.

3) The side effects of hormonal treatment, experienced by individual athletes could, with further evidence, demonstrate the practical impossibility of compliance which could in turn lead to a different conclusion as to the proportionality of the DSD Regulations. (Mail & Guardian website)

Read full CAS verdict

According to Eye Witness News, In a statement issued by her legal team after the ruling, Semenya stated “I know that the IAAF’s regulations have always targeted me specifically. For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of the CAS will not hold me back. I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world.”

Supporters took to social media after the courts ruling voicing their support to Castor Semenya and other women in sports with DSD.