IAAF welcomes CAS’s verdict on Semenya’s appeal

Caster Semenya
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The IAAF has welcomed the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s verdict on South African athlete, Caster Semenya’s appeal against regulations limiting testosterone levels in female athletes.

However the panel expressed some concerns as to the future practical application of the regulations and noted that they are discriminatory.

CAS Secretary General, Matthieu Reeb, says the panel found the regulations to be discriminatory – but necessary.

Earlier on Wednesday, CAS dismissed the appeal by South Africa’s World and Olympic 800m champion, Caster Semenya, to halt the implementation of these regulations.

The ruling means Semenya and other female middle-distance athletes with Differences in Sexual Development (DSD) would have to take medication to lower their testosterone levels.

Semenya took on the world body regarding its controversial new regulations and had to wait several weeks for the ruling by CAS’ three-judge panel.

The IAAF and CAS have previously called the matter one of the most important ever to appear before the court. CAS Secretary-General, Matthieu Reeb, says the panel determined that the regulations were discriminatory, but such discrimination is necessary.

“By majority the CAS panel has dismissed the request for arbitration, considering that Caster Semenya and ASA were unable to establish that the DSD regulations were invalid. The panel found that the DSD regulations are discriminatory, but the majority of the panel found that on the basis of the evidence submitted by the parties in the procedure, such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s objective of preserving the integrity of female athletics in some track events of international competitions, that is from 400 meters to one mile.”

However, CAS has expressed its concern over the future practical applications of the regulations.

“One, the difficulties of the implementation of the maximum permitted level of testosterone in view of the strict liability aspect of the DSD regulations, the panel expressed its concern as to the possibility for an athlete to maintain a sufficiently low level of testosterone and more specifically the resulting consequences of unintentional non-compliance. Second, the difficulty to rely on concrete evidence of actual significant athletic advantage by sufficient number of concerned athletes in the 1500 metre and one mile events.

“The CAS panel suggested that the IAAF consider deferring the application of the DSD regulations to these events until more evidence is available. And three, the side effects of hormonal treatment experienced by individual athletes; that is the user of oral contraceptives could, with further evidence, demonstrate the practical impossibility of compliance which could in turn lead to a different conclusion as to the proportionality of the DSD regulations.”

In 2018 South African professor, Steve Cornelius, resigned as a member of the IAAF’s Disciplinary Tribunal in protest over the then proposed regulations. Following this outcome, Cornelius believes the issue is far from over.

“It’s also in some ways a bit confusing because they do express concerns over the regulations, but still find them to be valid. So I think this is just part of a longer process and going forward there will certainly be more to come, but I don’t think this is the final word on the matter.”

Semenya herself stayed mum on the matter, opting to express her thoughts on social media.

South Africans, however, were vocal in their support for the world champion.

“She is just like what she is. She’s just like that. You can’t change it. She’s just like that. If they’re going to take away that from her; then what? It’s not right. They want to make her look like the rest of the runners. That’s unfair to her.”

The Sports Ministry says it will study the ruling before deciding on the way forward. Semenya has 30 days to appeal, in a challenge that would be heard by the Swiss Federal Tribunal.