South African athlete Caster Semenya is set to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against World Athletics’ rule that restricts testosterone levels in female runners

South African athlete Caster Semenya is set to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against World Athletics’ rule that restricts testosterone levels in female runners

The 29-year-old double Olympic 800m champion had previously lost two appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court.

She is contesting the legality of the rule because it effectively denies her the opportunity to compete in events between 400m and a mile without taking testosterone-reducing drugs.

“Public support goes a long way to help show how the rules from World Athletics are against public interest,” Greg Nott, a member of Semenya’s legal team, laid out on Tuesday.

“As such, we encourage everyone to help create a more equal world by showing their support on social media and by putting pressure on their sporting bodies to embrace and apply internationally accepted human rights values in their activities and rules.”

Last year, the governing body of Athletics included in a rule that athletes with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD) will be required to take medication in order to compete in track events from 400m to the mile, or change to another distance entirely.


Science has shown that athletes with DSD have higher levels of natural testosterone. World Athletics holds the position that this natural process upsets the playing field and gives such athletes a competitive advantage.

Last year, when the South African challenged the rule, CAS rejected her challenge. She suffered a similar fate in September when the Swiss Federal Supreme Court denied her appeal.

After that second ruling, World Athletics put out a statement that read in part:

“We welcome the decision by the Swiss Federal Tribunal to uphold our DSD regulations as a legitimate and proportionate means of protecting the right of all female athletes to participate in our sport on fair and meaningful terms.”

With the ruling in place, except Semenya follows the testosterone-reducing guidelines of World Athletics, she will be unable to defend her 800m title at the rearranged Tokyo Games next summer.

In March next year, she says she wants to compete in the 200m in Japan, a distance for which she would not need to take medication.

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