South Afriac’s Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya has filed an appeal to Switzerland’s federal Supreme Court in response to losing her case against restricting testosterone levels in female runners.
On 1st May, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, rejected her challenge against the new ruling imposed by athletics governing body, the IAAF. It requires female middle-distance athletes with high natural levels of testosterone to reduce it via medication.
In the statement she says, “I am a woman and a world-class athlete and the IAAF will not drug me or stop me from being who I am. It’s a case splitting opinion in women’s sport.”
She added that she would ask the Swiss Federal Supreme Court to set aside the court’s s decision in its entirety, which did not consider medical protocols and uncertain health consequences of taking testosterone-reducing medication.
Semenya lost her first appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the Swiss city of Lausanne.
This highly polarising issue will be especially highlighted in Stockholm’s venerable Olympic stadium as it hosts the first Diamond League 800m race since the new ruling came into force.
Not only will Semenya be missing but the two women who finished behind her at the Rio Olympics, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba and Margaret Wambui of Kenya will also be absent because they are all affected by the new rules.
Wambui told AFP this month she is demoralised by the rule and is, for now, refusing to undergo the testosterone-lowering treatment.
“I don’t feel even like going on with the training because you don’t know what you are training for,” she said.
Away from the legal challenges, Semenya’s answer on the track has been to shift up to distances not covered by the new regulations. She will run over 2,000m in Montreuil outside Paris on June 11 before attempting the 3,000m at the Prefontaine meeting in the US on June 30.
Some athletes admit they are disturbed by the Semenya case.
“The idea is not to be the best by default because victory just doesn’t have the same meaning in that case,” France’s Olympic discus silver medallist Melina Robert-Michon said.
“Asking someone to take medication is very intrusive for a woman but I can understand that (Semenya’s) opponents wonder about her.”
On the track, the Stockholm meeting features British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, the fastest woman in the world this year over 200m after posting 22.26sec in the Doha Diamond League meeting.
She faces Elaine Thompson, the Jamaican who completed an Olympic sprint double in Rio and who is gradually returning to top form after an injury-shortened 2018.
Michael Norman, the American 400m specialist who recorded a sensational 43.45sec in April, equalling the fourth-fastest time in history, goes over the one-lap distance.
Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway, the darling of European middle-distance running, faces a high-quality field including his two brothers in the men’s 1,500m. -Additional reporting by AFP