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Caster Semenya loses appeal on testosterone

The CAS agreed with Semenya's team that the IAAF policy is discriminatory, but decided the discrimination is "necessary, legal and proportionate" under the circumstances

— by Anne Francis

Caster Semenya has lost her appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over the IAAF’s rule requiring female athletes with disorders of sexual development to lower their testosterone to be eligible to compete in track events from the 400m to the mile. Semenya is the reigning Olympic and world champion in the 800m.

Related: Is Caster Semenya resigned to racing 5,000m?

News outlets around the world reported the decision, which was originally to have come down a month ago, earlier today. In response to the decision, the IAAF has declared that athletes with DSD must take steps to lower their testosterone to not more than five nmol/L by May 8 to be eligible to compete in this year’s world championships in Doha in September.

The CAS reportedly agreed that the IAAF policy discriminates against athletes with DSD but justified the discrimination, calling it “reasonable, legal and proportionate” because naturally high levels of testosterone in female athletes confers an unfair advantage.

Semenya’s response, reported in the Guardian, was as follows: “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.”

Before today’s decision, many speculated that if the CAS ruled against her, she would move up in running distances. At the 2019 South African Athletics Championships last Thursday and Friday, Semenya abandoned her usual 800m in favour of the 1,500m and the 5,000m. Semenya ran 4:13.61 in the 1,500m, 100m ahead of the second-place finisher, and 16:05.97 in the 5,000m, beating defending national champion Dominique Scott by eight seconds. It was only the second time Semenya has raced this distance, according to an ESPN report.

For more news on Caster Semenya – go to Canadian Running Magazine.