Olympic champ Caster Semenya couldn`t defend 800m title in Tokyo without taking medication
Two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya lost her long legal battle Tuesday against track and field's rules that limit female runners' naturally high testosterone levels.
Switzerland's supreme court said its judges dismissed Semenya's appeal against a Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling last year that upheld the rules drafted by track's governing body affecting female runners with differences of sex development.
The 71-page ruling means Semenya cannot defend her Olympic 800-meter title at the Tokyo Games next year — or compete at any top meets in distances from 400 metres to the mile — unless she agrees to lower her testosterone level through medication or surgery.
The 29-year-old South African repeatedly said she will not do that and reiterated her stance in a statement through her lawyers Tuesday.
"I am very disappointed by this ruling, but refuse to let World Athletics drug me or stop me from being who I am," Semenya said. "Excluding female athletes or endangering our health solely because of our natural abilities puts World Athletics on the wrong side of history."
The Swiss Federal Tribunal said Semenya's appeal "essentially alleges a violation of the prohibition of discrimination."
In a May 2019 verdict, the sport court's three judges had said in a 2-to-1 ruling the discrimination against Semenya was "necessary, reasonable and proportionate" to maintain fairness in women's track. Testosterone is a hormone that strengthens muscle tone and bone mass, and is a doping product if injected or ingested.
The panel of five federal judges said it was limited to examining "whether the CAS decision violates fundamental and widely recognized principles of public order. That is not the case."
Semenya's "guarantee of human dignity" was also not compromised by the CAS ruling, the judges decided.
"Implicated female athletes are free to refuse treatment to lower testosterone levels. The decision also does not aim to question in any way the female sex of implicated female athletes," the federal court said.
It's unclear what Semenya will choose to do next. She could compete in the 100 or 200 or at distances longer than the mile but she has never had the success in those events that she has had over two laps.
However, she had already switched her training this year to 200, hinting that she was prepared to lose in court.
Greg Nott, Semenya's long-time lawyer in South Africa, said her international team of lawyers was "considering the judgment and the options to challenge the findings in European and domestics courts."
Any appeal to the European Court of Human Rights would likely not receive a judgment until after the Tokyo Olympics open next July.
Tuesday's judgment also came at a financial cost to Semenya and South Africa's track federation, which joined her appeal. Each was ordered to pay 7,000 Swiss francs ($7,600 US) to the court and 8,000 Swiss francs ($8,700) toward World Athletics' legal costs.
posted Wednesday September 9th
by Graham Dunbar, Gerald Imray