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‘Verdict will not hold me back’

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Semenya will now be forced to take the testosterone-lowering medication for six months before competing

FILE PHOTO: South Africa's Caster Semenya

CASTER Semenya reacted shortly after the Court of Arbitration (CAS) yesterday ruled against her challenge against new IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) rules about the levels of testosterone in the body.

“Sometimes it’s better to react with no reaction,” the double Olympic champion tweeted.

The 28-year-old, however, was quoted by CNN as saying: “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 CAS has dismissed both requests for arbitration,” CAS said in a statement yesterday.

Semenya will now be forced to take the testosterone-lowering medication for six months before competing.

Semenya, who went through this same controversy years ago and won her case, had a team of experts challenging the IAAF ruling.

The world athletics body was trying to force what they term “hyperandrogenic” athletes or those with “differences of sexual development” (DSD) to seek treatment to lower their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount if they wish to continue competing as women.

“Athletes with 46 XY DSD have testosterone levels well into the male range (7.7 to 29.4 nmol/L; normal female range being below 2 nmol/L),” the CAS statement read.

“The DSD Regulations require athletes with 46 XY DSD with a natural testosterone level over 5 nmol/L, and who experience a ‘material androgenising effect’ from that enhanced testosterone level, to reduce their natural testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L, and to maintain that reduced level for a continuous period of at least six months in order to be eligible to compete in a Restricted Event.

“Such a reduction can be achieved, according to the IAAF evidence, by the use of normal oral contraceptives.”

The IAAF has been adamant that the moves are necessary to create a level playing field for other women athletes.

Semenya, who is a double Olympic champion and has elicited great sympathy around the world with this particular case, has been the dominant figure on the track over the last 10 years, especially the women’s 800 metres.

Semenya had decided to take her case to CAS, the world’s top sports court, which said it would announce a decision in March before the parties both filed additional documents, thereby delaying the decision.

Her lawyers said that the IAAF is interfering with natural genetic variations of normal female athletes.

The ANC said it was appalled at the decision while the DA also voiced dismay and accused the court of discriminating against the track star.

The ANC said in a statement that the IAAF, a body meant to be the custodian of the values for athletics, acted in a prejudicial manner that divides rather than unites athletes.

The ANC said it was disheartening to learn that the court ruled against Semenya in her fight to be treated equally and without prejudice.

“The ANC joins millions of South Africans in reiterating its support for equal treatment for Semenya by the IAAF.”

The ANC said the sporting arena has always been a contested terrain.

“We have had the ignominy of the Olympics being hosted by the racist Nazi regime in 1936. We have also had the sporting community shun and isolate the apartheid regime, and not allow apartheid athletes to compete on the international stage. As the ANC, we had hoped that the IAAF would remember its past, both good and bad, and do the right thing. Unfortunately, the IAAF chose expediency at the expense of (the) natural talents of athletes like Caster Semenya.”

The ANC commended Semenya for the way in which she conducted herself throughout the ordeal.

“It would have been very easy for Caster to exhibit anger, on the contrary she has been the epitome of grace and charm. “

The ruling party further called upon on the international sporting community to raise their voices at what it called an injustice.

“The UN Human Rights Council resolution adopted in March 2019 on Caster Semenya should serve as a lodestar in guiding not only the sporting fraternity, but the rest of the world in establishing fair rules that protect and uphold the human rights and dignity of others.”

The UNHRC adopted a resolution tabled by South Africa to defend Semenya’s rights to participate in sport.

The DA said IAAF policy on the matter was “wholly discriminatory” to female athletes who happen to have higher testosterone levels in their bodies.

In a statement, the DA said it supported a remarkably talented athlete who had made the country proud.

“She has encouraged other young female athletes to participate in sports and to believe in themselves. She has flown our flag high and has consistently raised the bar in the global sports fraternity, despite opposition that has been levelled against her natural abilities.” – ANA