Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
29 May 2019
8:34 pm

‘The IAAF will not drug me’

Wesley Botton

Defiant Caster returns to court.

South Africa's runner Caster Semenya, current 800-meter Olympic gold medalist and world champion, arrives for the first day of her hearing at the international Court of Arbitration for Sport, CAS, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. Picture: Laurent Gillieron / Keystone via AP

World champion Caster Semenya says she will not take hormone suppressants in order to compete internationally in her favoured middle-distance events, insisting she will continue to fight new rules restricting athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD).

After losing a battle against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Semenya confirmed on Wednesday that she would join Athletics South Africa (ASA) in filing an appeal at the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.

“I am a woman and I am a world-class athlete,” a defiant Semenya said in a statement.

“The IAAF will not drug me or stop me from being who I am.”

Semenya’s appeal would focus on protecting the human rights of DSD athletes who were affected by the restrictions.

“The IAAF regulations violate the most fundamental principles of Swiss public policy,” said Dorothee Schramm, who was set to lead Semenya’s appeal.

“In the race for justice, human rights must win over sporting interests.”

Sports minister Tokozile Xasa had revealed earlier this month that government had backed a decision by ASA to appeal the CAS judgement, which cleared the controversial new IAAF rules that forced DSD athletes to reduce their natural testosterone levels if they wanted to compete internationally against women over distances ranging from 400m to the mile (1.609km).

In its judgment, 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.

The IAAF had nonetheless been criticised by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which claimed the athletics body was in danger of violating the rights of DSD athletes, as well as the World Medical Association, which had warned doctors that they could be in breach of their code of ethics if they were involved in enforcing the rule on athletes by administering medication.

Though she could not compete on the global circuit over shorter distances, Semenya had entered the women’s 3 000m race at next month’s Diamond League meeting in Stanford, as she prepared to resume her 2019 campaign on the track while her battle in court continued.

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