Last Updated:

Caster Semenya Vows To Continue Fighting For Women Athletes' Human Rights On And Off Court

South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya lost her appeal in a Swiss court over the restriction of testosterone levels but vowed to continue fighting.

Caster Semenya

Under the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) policy, Differences of Sexual Development (DSD) athletes usually born with testes, would have to reduce the level of blood testosterone to less than five nmol/L for around six months, according to the World Athletics guidelines introduced last year. If they wish to compete internationally for middle-distance events, they would have to maintain the levels for the remainder of their athletic career. Due to these guidelines, runner Caster Semenya, who has 46, XY, would have to take testosterone-reducing drugs to compete. The 29-year-old South African middle-distance runner decided against doing so. 

Also read | Rio Olympics silver medalist PV Sindhu agrees to participate in Thomas and Uber Cup

Caster Semenya case about DSD athletes: South African runner promises to fight on after losing appeal in Swiss court

On Tuesday, the Swiss Federal Tribunal rejected Caster Semenya's appeal, not allowing her to compete in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. The court seemingly believes Semenya medically altered her body, which suppresses her natural testosterone levels so she can run in international events. The court sided with the World Athletics body, stating that the two-time Olympic gold medalist will have to show her altered result, else she won't be able to compete. 

Also read | Officials discuss virus measures at Tokyo Olympics

Caster Semenya XY disorder

Semenya has what medicine calls the "46, XY" disorder of sexual development, where she carries one X chromosome and Y chromosome in each cell. This condition, unfortunately, makes Semenya list above the average testosterone levels. While the Swiss Court has ruled against the three-time world champion, World Medical Association and the UN's Commissioner of Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet support Semenya's decision. 

Simone Biles reacts to the Caster Semenya case about DSD athletes

“I am very disappointed by this ruling,” Semenya said in a statement delivered by her lawyers. However, she added that she refuses to let the World Athletics stop her from being who she is. "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." Semenya asserted that excluding women and endangering their health solely due to their "natural abilities" puts them on the "wrong side of history".

Also read | Not done: Caster Semenya runs again, says 'I'm here to stay'

World Athletics on the Caster Semenya testosterone case 

Unsurprisingly, the World Athletics agreed with the Swiss court's decision. They referred to the decision as "a legitimate and proportionate means of protecting the right of all female athletes to participate in our sport on fair and meaningful terms." The governing body, on the other hand, stated that they respect everyone's personal dignity. However, they added that "the DSD regulations are not about challenging an individual's gender identity, but rather about protecting fair competition for all female athletes."

Also read | Caster Semenya is looking for another Olympic run

(Image credits: AP)

First Published: