Testosterone level: Semenya receives the worst news after court ruling, Kenya’s Nyairera also affected
A Swiss court ruling that blocks South African Caster Semenya from defending her world 800m title in Doha in September creates much-needed “parity and clarity” in athletics, the sport’s governing body said.
A judge at the Swiss Federal Tribunal on Monday revoked a temporary suspension on the IAAF’s controversial testosterone-curbing rules, meaning two-time Olympic champion Semenya can no longer compete in events between the 400m and mile, as she did in June and July.
“The IAAF welcomes the Swiss Federal Tribunal’s decision today to revoke its Super-Provisional Order of 31 May 2019 after hearing the IAAF’s arguments,” the International Association of Athletics Federations said after the judge’s ruling was made public yesterday.
“This decision creates much-needed parity and clarity for all athletes as they prepare for the World Championships in Doha this September.”
Semenya had appealed to the Swiss court in May after failing to get the new IAAF regulations overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The IAAF added that it would maintain its position in the remainder of proceedings at the Swiss Federal Tribunal that “there are some contexts, sport being one of them, where biology has to trump gender identity, which is why the IAAF believes (and the CAS agreed) that the DSD (differences of sexual development) regulations are a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of protecting fair and meaningful competition in elite female athletics”.
Semenya is classified as a woman, was raised as a woman and races as a woman.
But for the IAAF, women like Semenya, with certain masculine attributes due to DSD, are classified, biologically, as men. It is a position hotly contested by others.
The ruling also means Kenya’s Margaret Nyairera, who won bronze in 2016 Rio Olympics will also not be selected to take part at the World Championships.
Nyairera is among several star female athletes affected by IAAF ruling that requires women with high levels of testosterone to take medication to suppress it and they were hoping the case filed by Semenya at the Swiss court would come to their aid.
The other Kenyans affected are sprinters Maximila Imali and Evangeline Makena who were withdrawn from Kenya’s team to the World Relays in Yokohama early in the year after the order by IAAF.
Athletics Kenya Athletes Representative Chemos said: “This issue is very sensitive, and it’s very unfortunate that Nyairera and Imali found themselves in it because they didn’t chose to be born like that”
In the build-up to the 2009 world championships in Berlin, where Semenya went on to win gold in the 800m, the South African had to undergo gender verification testing to confirm her eligibility to compete in the women’s category.
She was subsequently put on medication to reduce her testosterone levels, spending six months sidelined by the IAAF.
Semenya, born with the “46 XY” chromosome rather than the XX chromosome most females have, described the experience as like that of being treated like a “human guinea pig” and vowed never to again allow the IAAF to enforce medication upon her in order to compete.
The Swiss Federal Tribunal, in its ruling released yesterday, was also not optimistic for Semenya’s ongoing appeal.
It concluded “in a first summary examination, that Caster Semenya's appeal does not appear with high probability to be well founded”.
“The CAS, after thoroughly evaluating the expert evidence, found that the ‘46 XY DSD’ characteristic has a direct impact on performance in sport,” the tribunal said.
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