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Semenya: CAS decision will not hold me back

Star athlete Caster Semenya says she is undeterred by the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to reject her case against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

On Wednesday afternoon, the CAS released its verdict which essentially upheld testosterone regulations implemented by the IAAF last year.

READ MORE: ‘Necessary discrimination’: CAS rejects Caster Semenya’s appeal

“I know that the IAAF’s regulations have always targeted me specifically,” she said in a statement released through her representatives. “For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of the CAS will not hold me back. I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world.”

Semenya approached the court after the IAAF introduced new middle-distance regulations in April last year. The “eligibility regulations for female classification” restricted the levels of testosterone allowed in women intending to run the 400m, 800m and 1 500m.

Under such rules, athletes who have a “difference of sexual development” (DSD) would be rigorously monitored and forced to lower, and then maintain for six months, their testosterone levels to five nanomoles a litre (nmol/l). Semenya exceeds that level and at present would have to lower it medically or via an oral contraceptive.

READ MORE: Bad science won’t undo Semenya

In its media release, CAS said it did in fact find the new regulations to be discriminatory, but that they were “necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics in the Restricted Events”.

“Caster Semenya is pleased that a unanimous CAS Panel of three arbitrators confirmed that the IAAF’s DSD Regulations are in fact discriminatory against certain women,” her representatives responded. “Ms Semenya is, however, disappointed that two of the three arbitrators concluded that such targeted discrimination is necessary. Ms Semenya is reviewing the decision with her legal team and considering whether to file an appeal.”

Despite ruling in favour of the IAAF, CAS did express various concerns — most notably over the continued fair implementation over the new policies and whether there was sufficient evidence to include the 1 500m in the list of restricted events.

Semenya has called on the IAAF to suspend the regulations until the issues are addressed.

Her representatives continued: “In the interim, Ms Semenya believes that it is irresponsible for the IAAF to proceed with the implementation of the DSD Regulations in circumstances where the CAS decision makes it abundantly clear that there are serious problems with the Regulations that need to be carefully considered and the DSD Regulations will unquestionably cause harm to the women affected by them.”

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Luke Feltham

Luke Feltham runs the Mail & Guardian's sports desk. He was previously the online day editor.

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