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Caster Semenya appeals to European Court of Human Rights over ‘discriminatory’ testosterone limit
- Updated: February 27, 2021
Caster Semenya, the South African Olympic champion runner, has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights to end “discriminatory” testosterone limits imposed on female athletes.
Semenya is hyperandrogenous — meaning she has naturally high levels of the male sex hormone — and is fighting against new rules introduced in 2019 by track and field’s governing body World Athletics (previously known as the IAAF) that regulate levels of the hormone in female athletes.
World Athletics said the rules were about “leveling the playing field” because, it said, testosterone “provides significant performance advantages in female athletes.”
Semenya took the 800 meters gold at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics but the rules mean she will now need to take testosterone-reducing medication in order to compete internationally over distances between 400 meters and one mile — something she has declined to do.
She is now training to qualify for the 200 meters at the postponed Tokyo Olympics, which will take place later this year.
In April 2019, Semenya lost an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. In September 2020, she lost an appeal made to Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court but vowed to continue to “fight for the human rights of female athletes.”
The latest appeal, to the European Court of Human Rights, was announced Thursday in a press release from Semenya’s lawyers, Norton Rose Fulbright.
The press release calls on the court to find that, in its dismissal of Semenya’s appeal, Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court “failed” in its obligations to uphold her human rights.