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Semenya Loses Appeal As Tokyo Dream Is Dashed

Double Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya has lost her appeal against the restriction of testosterone in female athletes. Semenya has long been entangled in a legal battle against regulations requiring women with high testosterone to take medication to compete internationally between 400m and a mile.

Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court dismissed Semenya’s appeal, upholding the ruling made by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last year regarding female runners, like Semenya, with differences of sexual development (DSD).

“Based on these findings, the Cas decision cannot be challenged,” the tribunal said. “Fairness in sport is a legitimate concern and forms a central principle of sporting competition. It is one of the pillars on which competition is based.”

The South African was almost unbeatable until World Athletics implemented a new policy for DSD athletes. The ruling compelled DSD athletes to reduce their testosterone levels to less than 5 nmol/L if they wanted to compete in elite events between 400m and a mile.

It argued the policy was justified because more than 99% of females have around 0.12-1.79 nmol/L of testosterone in their bodies – while DSDs are in the male range of 7.7-29.4 nmol/L.

It now does not like possible for Semenya to defend her title in Tokyo. She responded to the news by accusing World Athletics of being on the “wrong side of history”.

Caster Semenya Rio Olympics
Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi (silver), Caster Semenya of South Africa (gold) and Margaret Woambui of Kenya (bronze) with their Rio Olympic medals in the 800m event.

Semenya, who won 800m gold at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, said in March that she would target the 200m, an event she is permitted to compete in without taking medication to reduce her naturally elevated testosterone levels.

She was competing in the 200m in her native South Africa earlier this year with an eye on qualifying for the Olympics before the postponement of this year’s Games was announced.

“I am very disappointed by this ruling, but refuse to let World Athletics drug me or stop me from being who I am,” Semenya said in a statement released via her lawyers, according to PA Media.

“Excluding female athletes or endangering our health solely because of our natural abilities puts World Athletics on the wrong side of history.

“I will continue to fight for the human rights of female athletes, both on the track and off the track, until we can all run free the way we were born. I know what is right and will do all I can to protect basic human rights, for young girls everywhere.”

HerSport Editor

Her Sport is a media platform centred on bringing the latest Irish and international women’s sports news. Her Sport aims to empower women in sport, inspire more female participation, increase opportunity and level the playing field for future generations. Our objective is to create real and tangible change.

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