Caster Semenya will now be compelled to undergo medication which will reduce her high testosterone levels and her performance as an athlete, the result of the ruling in the South African athlete’s legal case against the IAAF, the world athletics governing body.
The ruling applies to international races between 400 metres and one mile.
Semenya is considering an appeal against the verdict although that is not very likely to be successful. Another way forward is turning her attention to competing in long distance races which are not bound by the IAAF’s rules on athletes with different sexual development.
Caster Semenya has long held that she is a woman who has no strange sex organs or anything to hide. However, the South African athlete, said to have internal testes, has high levels of the male hormone testosterone, giving her an advantage over other female athletes in terms of strength and power.
She dragged the IAAF to court, arguing that requiring her to undergo hormonal treatment was discriminatory and posed a risk to her health. This argument was quashed when the Court of Arbitration for Sport – the world’s highest court in sports – upheld that discrimination in sports is legal provided it is justified.
The IAAF maintains that female athletes with unusually high testosterone levels have an advantage over other female athletes and their policy is purely about creating a level playing field for all female athletes. Several experts support this view that female athletes with normal levels of testosterone are at a disadvantage when racing against athletes like Caster Semenya.
According to the arbitrators, this ruling, although discriminatory, was necessary and reasonable to ensure that there is fair competition in women’s athletics. Semenya and many other South Africans think otherwise.
The Olympic gold medalist who believes she has been unfairly targeted by the IAAF over the years said: “For a decade, the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision 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.”