16 May 2024

Semenya to fight on against DSD regulations

6:53 am on 16 May 2024
Caster Semenya of South Africa


Double Olympic 800-metre champion Caster Semenya appeared at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Wednesday to continue her challenge against World Athletics regulations that female athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs) medically reduce their testosterone levels.

The ECHR ruled in July 2023, by a majority of four votes to three, that Semenya's original appeal to a Swiss Federal Tribunal against the regulations had not been properly heard.

But the Swiss, encouraged by World Athletics, have appealed that verdict to the ECHR Grand Chamber for a final and definitive decision.

A verdict is expected in the coming months.

"This is an important day in my journey as a human being and athlete. It has been a long time coming," Semenya told reporters.

"The outcome of this case is very important. You need to pave out a way for young women so they don't face the injustice, the scrutiny of being judged, being dehumanised and being discriminated (against).

"I don't think this is about my career. It is about me being an advocate for what is right, to voice out for those who cannot fight for themselves."

Should Semenya be successful it will open up the possibility of a fresh challenge to the regulations that effectively ended her running career, though she says her fight is now for future generations.

"I hope that the court's decision will pave the way for all athletes' human rights to be fiercely protected, for once and for all," she added.

Under the World Athletics rules, female athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs) must lower their level of testosterone to below 2.5 nmol/L for at least six months to compete.

This can be done medically or surgically.

Athletes competing in events between 400 metres and a mile must keep their levels below 2.5 nmol/L for 24 months.

World Athletics have denied there is any attempt to discriminate in their regulations.

"World Athletics has only ever been interested in protecting the female category. If we don't, then women and young girls will not choose sport. That is, and has always been, the Federation's sole motivation," the sports body said in a previous statement to Reuters.

"We remain of the view that the DSD regulations are a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of protecting fair competition in the female category as the Court of Arbitration for Sport and Swiss Federal Tribunal both found, after a detailed and expert assessment of the evidence."


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