A long-running battle between Caster Semenya and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is set to return to court.
Sports minister Tokozile Xasa confirmed on Monday that government had backed a decision by Athletics South Africa (ASA) to appeal a recent judgement, after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) had cleared controversial new IAAF regulations last month which sidelined Semenya from the track.
“ASA will appeal the judgement of the CAS and lodge its papers within the prescribed and stipulated period,” the sports ministry revealed in a statement.
The national athletics body had applied for two of the three arbitrators on the CAS panel to be recused, claiming both individuals were conflicted after being involved in a previous case between the IAAF and Indian sprinter Dutee Chand in 2015.
ASA also insisted the outcome of the arbitration case it had jointly filed with Semenya was “inconceivable”, calling on CAS to address some of the concerns it had raised in its judgement, including the implementation of the IAAF regulations and potential ethical issues.
In an effort to gain further support in the landmark case, ASA said it would approach other national athletics federations and petition to have the regulations rescinded. It was also planning to launch a political attack on its mother body’s hierarchy by lobbying against the IAAF executive.
“The minister has also directed that the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa should work with other organs of State to intensify the international lobby and to approach the United Nations General Assembly to sanction the IAAF for violating international human rights instruments,” the sports ministry said.
Last month, CAS had dismissed requests for arbitration filed by Semenya and ASA in their attempt to have the IAAF rules overturned.
The new regulations, which came into effect last week, forced athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) to take medication in order to reduce their natural testosterone levels if they wanted to compete internationally against women over distances ranging from 400m to the mile (1.609km).
The CAS panel said it had been unable to establish that the DSD regulations were ‘invalid’, and though it did admit the rules were discriminatory, the panel felt such discrimination was “necessary and reasonable” in order to “preserve the integrity” of women competing in restricted events.