Athletics South Africa has filed an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, just six days after middle-distance runner Caster Semenya revealed she too had opted to tackle the contentious issue in court, as pressure mounted on the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) around its latest rule changes.
The national athletics body confirmed after its annual general meeting on Saturday that it had formally lodged an appeal, contending that the new regulations discriminated against certain female athletes “on the basis of natural physical characteristics and/or sex”, which ASA alleged was an infringement on the athletes’ human right to dignity.
Among other things, the federation also claimed there was “insufficient scientific evidence” to support the IAAF’s decision.
As part of its appeal, ASA had applied for the implementation of the IAAF regulations to be suspended pending the outcome of the legal process.
While ASA said its legal team had been corresponding with IAAF lawyers for the last six weeks, and the national federation had received support from government and the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), the global body had stated its intent to proceed with the implementation of the new rules in November.
After “reaching out” to the mother body in order to discuss the rule changes, ASA said its president Aleck Skhosana would meet with IAAF president Sebastian Coe next week.
The new IAAF regulations, to be applied to athletes competing over distances between 400m and the mile (1.609km), would force women with hyperandrogenism to reduce their natural testosterone levels in order to compete internationally against female opponents.
The rule changes were allegedly aimed at Semenya, who competed over the entire range of distances affected by the regulations, but the IAAF maintained it had sufficient evidence that natural testosterone in hyperandrogenic athletes provided an unfair advantage in certain disciplines.