South Africa’s Olympic and world 800m champion Caster Semenya is to challenge new IAAF rules on female classification at the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS], her lawyers have said.
In April it was announced that female athletes with naturally high testosterone levels will have to race against men or switch events unless they take medication under the new regulations which are set to begin in November.
The rules for athletes who have ‘differences of sexual development’ would apply to the 400m, 400m hurdles, 800m, 1500m, one mile races and combined events over the same distances.
Athletes who wish to compete would be required to take medication for six months beforehand and then maintain a lower testosterone level.
Should they not want to take the medication they would be able to compete in international competitions in disciplines other than track events from 400m to the mile, or they could compete in men’s or mixed gender competitions or domestic (non-international) events.
“Ms Semenya, like all athletes, is entitled to compete the way she was born without being obliged to alter her body by any medical means,” her lawyers Norton Rose Fulbright said in a statement.
In the statement, Semenya was quoted as saying: “I just want to run naturally, the way I was born.
“It is not fair that I am told I must change. It is not fair that people question who I am.
“I am Mokgadi Caster Semenya. I am a woman and I am fast.”
When announcing the rule changes, the IAAF pointed to their research which the governing body said showed there is a performance advantage for females with higher testosterone over the track distances.