Caster Semenya takes new step in appeal

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Two-time Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya‘s lawyer said her team will take her case to the European Court of Human Rights, hoping to reverse a rule that would force her to take testosterone-suppressing measures to compete in her best events.

“We will be taking World Athletics to the European Court of Human Rights, and public support goes a long way to help show how the rules from World Athletics are against public interest,” Greg Nott said in a statement Tuesday. “With growing support from institutions and bodies across the globe, we remain hopeful that World Athletics will see the error it has made and reverse the prohibitive rules which restrict Ms. Semenya from competing.”

In the last two years, Semenya lost appeals through the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.

Semenya said she refused “to let World Athletics drug me or stop me from being who I am,” in a press release in September, after losing her Swiss court appeal. “Excluding female athletes or endangering our health solely because of our natural abilities puts World Athletics on the wrong side of history. I will continue to fight for the human rights of female athletes, both on the track and off the track, until we can all run free the way we were born. I know what is right and will do all I can to protect basic human rights, for young girls everywhere.”

The World Athletics rule, which went into effect in 2019, caps athlete testosterone levels in women’s events from the 400m through the mile for athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD). World Athletics said that no female athletes would have a level above the cap — five nanomoles per liter — unless they had a DSD or a tumor.

“Throughout this long battle, World Athletics has always maintained that its regulations are lawful and legitimate, and that they represent a fair, necessary and proportionate means of ensuring the rights of all female athletes to participate on fair and equal terms,” World Athletics said in a statement after the Swiss court ruling. “It has rejected the suggestion that they infringe any athlete’s human rights, including the right to dignity and the right to bodily integrity.”

Last March, Semenya announced she switched to the 200m, a distance outside of the new testosterone-cap rule, to pursue Tokyo Olympic qualification. Her personal-best 200m time is shy of automatic Olympic qualification.

Semenya is undefeated at 800m since the start of 2016. She and the other two Rio 800m medalists have said they are affected by the new rule.

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