Caster Semenya takes her battle to be in the Olympics to European Court of Human Rights


Caster Semenya is taking World Athletics to the European Court of Human Rights after it said she could only compete in the Olympics if she drugged herself.

The 800-meters Olympic champion has the intersex condition hyperandrogenism, which causes higher testosterone levels.

In particular she has both X and Y chromosomes, as do most men, while women typically only have X chromosomes.

Under rules from World Athletics, athletes with ‘differences of sexual development’ (DSD) can’t compete on distances of 400m and a mile without taking drugs to reduce their testosterone levels.

Semenya has previously said: ‘I refuse to let World Athletics drug me or stop me from being who I am.’

She has taken her case through the Swiss courts but been unable to secure a breakthrough for intersex athletes. She has lost an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and a subsequent appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal asking for the CAS ruling to be set aside.

Now Semenya’s lawyer Greg Nott has confirmed: ‘We will be taking World Athletics to the European Court of Human Rights.’

World Athletics reaffirms anti-intersex stance

World Athletics has stuck to its stance despite the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights saying sporting bodies should remove regulations for women athletes that make it harder for intersex and trans sportspeople to compete.

Nott said: ‘We remain hopeful that World Athletics will see the error it has made and reverse the prohibitive rules which restrict Ms Semenya from competing.’

But there seems little chance of a change of heart from World Athletics. It replied to the case in a statement, saying:

‘World Athletics has always maintained that its regulations are lawful and legitimate, and that they represent a fair, necessary and proportionate means of ensuring the rights of all female athletes to participate on fair and equal terms.’

Athletics South Africa says it still plans on Semenya joining its team for the Tokyo Olympic Games next year.

Semenya naturally wants to defend her 800-metre title, which is covered by the World Athletics rule. However, she may be able to compete in the 200-metre sprint, which falls outside the regulations.


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