Caster Semenya: Olympic 800m champion files appeal to Swiss court

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Caster Semenya has won the Olympic 800m title twice and the world title three times

Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya has filed an appeal to Switzerland’s federal supreme court in response to losing her case against restricting testosterone levels in female runners.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) had rejected the South African’s challenge against the new rules imposed by athletics’ governing body IAAF.

The 28-year-old said: “I am a woman and world-class athlete.

“The IAAF will not drug me or stop me from being who I am.”

A statement issued on Wednesday said that Semenya will ask the Swiss court “to set aside the decision of the Cas in its entirety”, and said the focus of the appeal will be on “fundamental human rights”.

Dorothee Schramm, who will be leading Semenya’s appeal, said: “The IAAF regulations violate the most fundamental principles of Swiss public policy. In the race for justice, human rights must win over sporting interests.”

As it stands, Semenya – and other athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) – must either take medication in order to compete in track events from 400m to the mile, or change to another distance.

“For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of Cas will not hold me back,” said Semenya, after losing her original appeal earlier in May.

“I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world.”

Cas found that the rules for athletes with DSD were discriminatory – but that the discrimination was “necessary, reasonable and proportionate” to protect “the integrity of female athletics”.

Timeline

  • 31 July 2009: 18-year-old Semenya runs fastest 800m time of the year to win gold at the Africa Junior Championships.
  • August 2009: Semenya undertakes a gender test before the World Championships in Berlin. She is unaware of the purpose of the test, with Athletics South Africa president Leonard Chuene telling her it is a random doping test.
  • 19 August 2009: Semenya wins 800m world gold, breaking the world-leading mark she set in July. After her victory, the news of Semenya’s gender test is leaked to the press.
  • November 2009: There are reports that Semenya’s test has revealed male and female characteristics. The results are not made public.
  • 6 July 2010: Semenya is cleared by the IAAF to compete again.
  • 22 August 2010: Semenya wins the 800m at an IAAF event in Berlin.
  • 11 August 2012: Semenya wins 800m silver at the 2012 London Olympics. This is later upgraded to gold after Russian winner Mariya Savinov is given a lifetime ban for doping violations. Semenya is also upgraded to 2011 world gold.
  • July 2014: India sprinter Dutee Chand, 18, is banned from competing after a hormone test shows natural natural levels of testosterone normally only found in men.
  • 23 March 2015: Chand begins a legal challenge against the IAAF’s so-called gender tests.
  • 27 July 2015: Chand is cleared to compete; the Court of Arbitration for Sport suspends, for two years, the introduction of an earlier version of IAAF rules requiring female athletes to take testosterone-suppressing medication.
  • 20 August 2016: Semenya wins 800m gold at the Rio Olympics, but the decision to allow her to compete is questioned by other athletes.