Caster Semenya

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Caster Semenya allowed to race 800m at Pre Classic

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Caster Semenya has been switched from the 3000m to the 800m at next week’s Pre Classic, marking her first scheduled 800m since a Swiss Supreme Court ruling allowed her to race her Olympic gold-medal distance while she appeals a new IAAF testosterone rule.

“Caster’s representation requested that she be moved from the 3,000 meters (where she was originally entered) to the 800 meters, and we are happy to comply,” Prefontaine Classic meet director Tom Jordan said in a statement, confirming a Reuters report.

NBC Sports airs live Pre Classic coverage on June 30 from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Semenya, the two-time Olympic 800m champion, was originally entered in the 3000m because the rule bars her from races between 400m and the mile unless she takes testosterone-suppressing measures, under which she would be allowed to return to those distances late this year. Semenya refuses to take those measures.

A Swiss Supreme Court ruling two weeks ago lifted the restriction for Semenya — but not other athletes — while her appeal is pending. The IAAF has until Monday to respond to the court before a ruling could be made. A resolution could still be months away, with Semenya possibly able to race until that day comes.

Semenya has won 30 straight 800m races dating to 2015, including the Rio Olympics and 2017 World Championships. All three Rio Olympic 800m medalists have said they are affected by the new rule capping testosterone in women’s races between the 400m and mile.

That meant none raced at Diamond League stops in Stockholm and Rabat, Morocco, earlier this month. Last Sunday’s Rabat meet offered Semenya a late invite, more than a week after her restriction was lifted, but Semenya said it was too late for her to travel in time to race.

American record holder Ajeé Wilson won the Stockholm 800m without any of the Olympic medalists in the field.

MORE: Caster Semenya to IAAF: Focus on dopers, not us

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IAAF argued in court that Caster Semenya is ‘biologically male’

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The governing body of track argued that Caster Semenya is “biologically male” and that is the reason she should reduce her natural testosterone to be allowed to compete in female competitions, according to documents released publicly by sport’s highest court for the first time on Tuesday.

The IAAF’s stance on Semenya and other female athletes affected by its new testosterone regulations was revealed in a 163-page decision from the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, where the South African runner took on the IAAF over its highly contentious hormone rules in a closed-doors five-day hearing in February. CAS released only excerpts of the final decision when it was announced last month.

Tuesday’s fuller court records, which were still partially redacted, show the IAAF referred to the two-time Olympic 800m champion as one of a number of “biologically male athletes with female gender identities.”

In witness statements to the court, Semenya responded to the assertion by saying that being described as biologically male “hurts more than I can put in words.”

Semenya told the court she was unable to express the depth of hurt and insult she felt at the IAAF “telling me that I am not a woman.”

The IAAF won the case at CAS by a 2-1 majority of the panel of judges, allowing it to implement testosterone limits for Semenya and other female athletes who it says were born with typical male chromosome patterns.

At least two other athletes, Olympic 800m silver and bronze medalists Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya, have said they are also affected by the new rules. They also have railed against the regulations and criticized the IAAF.

Semenya, who has been legally identified as female her whole life, appealed the CAS verdict to Switzerland’s supreme court on human rights grounds. She won an interim ruling to temporarily suspend the hormone regulations.

The dispute between the 28-year-old Semenya, who is also a three-time world champion, and the IAAF is viewed as the most complex and controversial that sport has faced in years.

The IAAF says Semenya is one of a number of female athletes born with a “differences of sex disorder” and the typical male XY chromosome pattern, giving them male levels of the hormone testosterone after puberty and therefore an unfair athletic advantage over other female athletes.

To be allowed to compete under the rules, Semenya and other affected athletes must medically reduce their testosterone to below a specific threshold set by the IAAF. The rules only apply to races from 400m to one mile.

Semenya has refused to take medication to alter what she calls her natural form.

Tuesday’s documents shone a light on some of the runner’s experiences in a bitter 10-year battle with track and field authorities, experiences which she hasn’t spoken about publicly.

Testifying to the court, Semenya said she had been subjected to gender verification tests by South African track authorities in the buildup to the 2009 World Championships without being told or understanding the nature of the tests. She was 18 at the time and preparing for her first major competition.

Then, after her breakthrough victory at those world championships in Berlin, Germany, Semenya said she was taken to a German hospital where the IAAF conducted another gender test on her. Semenya testified that the IAAF did not ask the then-teenager if she wanted to undergo the test.

“It was an order by the IAAF which I had no choice but to comply with,” Semenya testified, according to the CAS documents.

She described her first major championships and speculation over her gender as “the most profound and humiliating experience of my life.” She said her treatment was “atrocious and humiliating.”

Semenya also described a five-year period from 2010-15 where she reluctantly agreed take testosterone suppressants under a previous version of the IAAF’s rules because her career depended on it.

But Semenya said the medication caused her to experience significant weight gain and constantly feel sick, led to regular fevers, and caused internal abdominal pain.

She said the IAAF, which didn’t introduce its first set of testosterone regulations until 2011, used her as a “lab rat” as it experimented with hormone-reducing medication.

MORE: Olympic marathon medalist banned 4 years

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Caster Semenya considered boycott, says she’s blocked from Rabat meet

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Caster Semenya said she has been denied entry into Sunday’s Diamond League meet in Rabat, Morocco, even though she is eligible to race her preferred distances while a Swiss supreme court decides on her appeal against the IAAF’s new rules for female events.

Semenya also said she considered boycotting racing the 800m unless the rule is lifted for all affected runners.

“I am a woman, but the IAAF has again tried to stop me from running the way I was born,” Semenya said in the release. “The IAAF questions my sex, causes me great pain and required me to take hormonal drugs that made me feel constantly sick and unable to focus for many years. No other woman should be forced to go through this in order to have the same right that all women have – to do what we love and run the way we were born.”

The two-time Olympic 800m champion’s team said she was told Tuesday that the president of the Moroccan track and field federation denied her from entering the 800m in Sunday’s meet.

“Caster is currently seeking clarity on the specific reasons for that decision, and she urges the IAAF to ensure its member federations comply with the law and the Supreme Court’s orders,” according to a press release.

The given media contact for the Rabat meet did not respond to an email last week asking if Semenya would be invited to race after the Swiss court made her eligible for the time being to race her best events — from the 400m through the mile. The same contact did not respond to a follow-up email Thursday afternoon following Semenya’s press release.

Later, on Friday, the meet announced it has invited Semenya into the meet. Semenya’s agent said it was too late for her to be able to travel to Morocco to compete, according to Reuters.

“It should be noted that the Diamond League meetings are not organized by the IAAF,” the IAAF said in a statement later Thursday. “Entry for any athlete into a Diamond League meeting is by invitation only from the meeting organizer.”

Semenya’s team also said the Swiss court denied an IAAF request to reimpose the regulations. The IAAF said it “continues to comply with” the Swiss court order to suspend the testosterone rule, strictly for Semenya.

“No woman should be subjected to these rules,” Semenya said in the release. “I thought hard about not running the 800m in solidarity unless all women can run free. But I will run now to show the IAAF that they cannot drug us.”

Semenya is also seeking to change her event at the Pre Classic on June 30 from the 3000m to the 800m, according to the release.

“As one of the premier track and field meets in the World, the Prefontaine Classic always strives to have the top athletes in attendance,” a meet spokesperson said when asked if Semenya will be allowed in the 800m. “If an athlete has a time/mark that is among the best in the World and is eligible in the eyes of the sports’ governing bodies, then yes, they will be considered for an invite to the Prefontaine Classic.”

MORE: Caster Semenya to IAAF: Focus on dopers, not us

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