Double Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya has recorded prodigious feats in her career despite facing more scrutiny about her gender -an issue currently being discussed in between IAAF corridors.
The renowned 28-year-old South African athlete has been dominating in the 800m and 1500m races while smashing records in several competitions.
Just at 18 years of age, Semenya was a gold medalist in the 12th IAAF World Championships held in Berlin, Germany by clocking 1:55.45.
Semenya bagged yet another gold medal in the 13th IAAF World Championships held between August and September 2011 in Daegu, South Korea. She continued to soar in her running career by winning gold 800m race at the 2012 Olympic Games, then in London.
In 2016, the South African was at it again - bagging a gold medal in the 2016 Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She also featured in the 16th edition of the World Championships the following year in London where she participated in both 800m and 1500m races, securing gold and bronze medals in respectively.
Semenya still was at the top of her game when she featured in the 2018 Commonwealth Games held in Queensland, Australia. She reaped richly by taking home two gold medals in 800m and 1500m races.
The athlete’s gender, however, has been a subject of debate in many quarters since she won gold in the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany.
This year could turn out to be one of those Semenya would like to forget.
The IAAF published a list on its website of the experts that would help justify need for new rules in female competitions, consequently sparking reaction from Semenya’s lawyers.
“This standard is necessary to ensure fair competition for all women. Indeed, without it, we risk losing the next generation of female athletes, since they will see no path to success in our sport. The IAAF is confident that the scientific basis by which it has defined the limits of the category – limits which will apply equally to all competitors – will stand up to challenge in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The team of experts providing evidence at CAS this week in support of the IAAF regulations includes the following, with links to published papers on articles on their areas of expertise,” explained IAAF through a press release.
On Monday, February 18, reports emerged Semenya’s lawyers would move to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The athlete is challenging the rules and regulations imposed by the IAAF in April last year – requiring her to artificially lower her testosterone levels.
The changes, dubbed ‘eligibility regulations for female classification’, restrict testosterone levels for female athletes taking part in the 400m, hurdles, 800m and 1500m races.
Semenya responded to the rule on her Twitter account saying - “I am 97 per cent sure you don’t like me but I’m 100 per cent sure I don’t care.”
Semenya’s lawyers have also blasted the IAAF for publicly releasing the list of experts, arguing that the court’s proceeding should remain private.
“The arbitration proceedings are subject to strict confidentiality provisions and this information should not have been released,” said Semenya’s lawyers.
“Ms Semenya believes the IAAF press release is a clear breach of the confidentiality provisions that was orchestrated in an effort to influence public opinion in circumstances where the IAAF knew that Ms Semenya would not be prepared to respond because she was complying with her confidentiality obligations,” they argued.
South Africa’s government have also come out to support Semenya, with the Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa describing the rules as ‘discriminatory’.
"What's at stake here is far more than the right to participate in a sport. Women's bodies, their wellbeing, their ability to earn a livelihood, their very identity, their privacy and sense of safety and belonging in the world, are being questioned,” said the minister.