Made to wait for a decision on contentious new gender regulations, Caster Semenya and Athletics South Africa (ASA) welcomed support yesterday from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in their battle against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
“ASA is humbled by the unanimous resolution adopted by the UNHRC during their 46th session yesterday [Thursday] to defend Caster Semenya’s right to participate as a female in sport,” the federation said in a statement.
The UNHRC resolution, which was led by South Africa and unanimously adopted by the UNHRC’s 47 council members, was aimed at eliminating discrimination against women and girls in sport.
“Caster Semenya wishes to express her thanks for the overwhelming support shown to her and to women athletes throughout the world,” Semenya’s lawyers said in a statement.
According to Lindiwe Sisulu, minister of international relations and cooperation, the international community had a duty to defend Semenya’s rights.
“The international campaign to preserve Caster’s right to participate in global sports is a struggle for all women in the world against discrimination, sexism and patriarchy,” Sisulu said.
A decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was postponed this week until the end of April, with the IAAF making additional submissions in defence of its case, in an attempt to have its controversial gender rules upheld.
While the IAAF argued it was aiming to protect women who had lower levels of testosterone, world 800m champion Semenya and ASA had both launched legal challenges late last year in an effort to overturn the global athletics body’s regulations, which restricted athletes with hyperandrogenism from competing against female athletes at international level in certain events.
“Caster remains optimistic that the CAS will declare the IAAF’s regulations unlawful, invalid and of no effect,” Semenya’s lawyers said.