Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
16 Oct 2018
4:33 pm

IAAF holds off on controversial ‘Semenya rule’ change

Wesley Botton

The new rule seeks to restrict the participation of women with higher testosterone levels.

South Africa's Caster Semenya reacts after winning the women's 800 metres during the IAAF Diamond League "Weltklasse" athletics meeting at the Letzigrund stadium in Zurich on August 30, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI

The implementation of a rule restricting hyperandrogenic athletes from competing against women at international level has been postponed until after an appeal filed by middle-distance runner Caster Semenya and national federation Athletics South Africa (ASA) has been heard.

While the controversial new rule was expected to be implemented on November 1, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said on Tuesday it would hold off for six months, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) expected to rule on the case by the end of March next year.

“A contested application to stay the implementation of the DSD (differences of sexual development) regulations would have caused additional delay and created new uncertainty for athletes seeking to compete in the women’s category,” the IAAF said in a statement.

The new rule, which was being contested by Semenya and the ASA, would force DSD athletes to either lower their natural testosterone levels in certain disciplines or compete in a separate category.

The IAAF had been accused of targeting Semenya after enforcing the rule on distances ranging over 400m to the mile (1.60km), which were the same events in which the world and Olympic 800m champion had excelled in recent years.

The global body had faced widespread criticism, with the latest allegations being raised by a group of sub-committees at the United Nations, who had told the IAAF in a letter that the new rule could violate athletes’ human rights.

“The IAAF remains very confident of the legal, scientific and ethical bases for the regulations, and therefore fully expects the CAS to reject these challenges,” said the international federation.

The CAS hearing was expected to start in February.

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