Both sides have stood their ground following a meeting between Athletics South Africa (ASA) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to discuss international rule changes.
While ASA confirmed earlier this month it would take the matter to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS), claiming the IAAF’s new gender classification regulations were discriminatory, the international body insisted it would proceed with the implementation of the approved rules in November.
“Whilst we have been talking to the IAAF since 10 May, we would have preferred more consultation in the development of these regulations,” ASA president Aleck Skhosana said on Wednesday, a day after meeting with ASA president Sebastian Coe.
“We will support our athletes on the grounds that the regulations discriminate against certain female athletes on the basis of natural physical characteristics and/or sex.”
The rules, 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 participate internationally against female opponents.
Alternatively, they would be expected to compete in a separate category for DSD (difference of sexual development) athletes.
In its appeal, ASA contended that there was “insufficient scientific evidence” to support the IAAF’s decision, and it called for the implementation of the regulations to be suspended pending the outcome of the legal process.
Though the rule changes were allegedly aimed at sidelining South African middle-distance ace Caster Semenya, who competed over the entire range of distances which were affected, Coe claimed the IAAF was not targeting any individual.
“We need to come up with a fair solution for intersex/DSD athletes wishing to compete in the female category which is what the new regulations set out to do, based on the evidence the IAAF has gathered about the degree of performance benefit that such intersex/DSD athletes get,” Coe said.