18 November 2020

Caster Semenya to appeal to European Court of Human Rights to overturn testosterone ban

Caster Semenya is set to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to challenge the regulations that require her to artificially lower her natural testosterone levels in order to compete. 

The two-time Olympic 800m champion has already lost two legal appeals against World Athletics’ ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Swiss Supreme Court. 

It was concluded that Semenya would have to take testosterone-suppressing drugs if she wanted to compete in 400m to one-mile events at the Tokyo Olympic Games next summer.

The 29 year-old South African, who is a three-time world champion, was assigned female at birth and identifies as a female, but she has a hormone disorder that causes her to have naturally higher levels of testosterone.

Semenya’s lawyer, Greg Nott, who has represented the star for more than a decade, said: "We will be taking World Athletics to the European Court of Human Rights.

“We remain hopeful that World Athletics will see the error it has made and reverse the prohibitive rules which restrict Ms Semenya from competing.”

Nott did not place a time-frame on the appeal.

World Athletics said in response: “For many years World Athletics has fought for and defended equal rights and opportunities for all women and girls in our sport today and in the future. 

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

“It has rejected the suggestion that they infringe any athlete's human rights, including the right to dignity and the right to bodily integrity. Both the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT) agreed.”

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