Road To The Olympic Games

Track and Field

'IAAF won't drug me:' Caster Semenya appeals testosterone ruling

South African runner Caster Semenya filed an appeal Wednesday against the Court of Arbitration for Sport's decision to uphold testosterone regulations for some female athletes in track and field.

2-time Olympic champ barred from several races unless she medically lowers levels

South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya on Wednesday lodged an appeal with Switzerland's supreme court, contesting a Court of Arbitration for Sports decision that she is not allowed to run in international races from 400 metres to one mile unless she medically lowers her natural testosterone levels. (Francois Nel/Getty Images)

South African runner Caster Semenya filed an appeal Wednesday against the Court of Arbitration for Sport's decision to uphold testosterone regulations for some female athletes in track and field.

The two-time Olympic 800-metre champion's lawyers said she lodged an appeal with the Swiss Federal Tribunal, Switzerland's supreme court. CAS, sport's highest court, is based in Switzerland.

Semenya's appeal focuses on "fundamental human rights," the lawyers said.

Under the International Association of Athletics Federations new rules, upheld by the CAS this month, Semenya is not allowed to run in international races from 400 metres to one mile unless she medically lowers her natural testosterone levels. She said after the CAS decision that she would not take medication and repeated her defiance in Wednesday's statement announcing her appeal.

"I am a woman and I am a world-class athlete," Semenya said. "The IAAF will not drug me or stop me from being who I am."

WATCH | Semenya dominates 1st event since CAS ruling:

South Africa's Caster Semenya won the opening Diamond League women's 800 metre race in Doha. It's the final race before new rules take effect that would force Semenya to lower her testosterone levels for the 800 or 1,500 metre races at major events. 6:19
The 28-year-old Semenya, who is also a three-time world champion, is one of a number of female athletes with medical conditions known as differences of sex development that cause high levels of natural testosterone. The IAAF says that gives them an advantage over other female athletes because of testosterone's ability to help athletes build muscle and carry more oxygen in their blood.

But the IAAF requires Semenya and others affected by the rules to take hormone suppressing medication or have surgery if they want to compete in the restricted events. That's been labelled as unethical by leading medical experts, including the World Medical Association, which represents doctors across the world.

Semenya's lawyers said " the Swiss Federal Supreme Court will be asked to consider whether the IAAF's requirements for compulsory drug interventions violate essential and widely recognized public policy values, including the prohibition against discrimination, the right to physical integrity, the right to economic freedom, and respect for human dignity."

Decisions made by CAS can be appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal on only a very limited number of grounds. One of them is a ruling that possibly violates a person's human rights.

Semenya's lawyers could also seek a temporary suspension of the IAAF rules, which came into effect May 8, to allow her to defend her 800 title at the world championships in Doha, Qatar in September. The testosterone regulations specify that athletes must reduce their testosterone levels to a level decided by the IAAF for six months consistently before being allowed to run in international events.

Under the current regulations, Semenya can't run the 800 or 1,500, her favourite events, at any Diamond League meets this season or the world championships.

Broadcast Partners

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.