Caster Semenya is taking her fight to compete like every other woman to the next level.
Late Wednesday, the legal team for the South African Olympian filed her appeal of the Court of Arbitration for Sport verdict to Switzerland’s Supreme Court. The appeal challenges the CAS ruling in favor of a proposal by the International Association of Athletic Federations.
The IAAF won the fight to force Semenya and women sprinters like her to have their testosterone chemically suppressed, if she is to ever compete again in the 800m, the event in which she clearly excels. Semenya won gold in the Olympic Summer Games in 2012 and 2016.
In the aftermath of those and other victories, the IAAF attempted to restrict races from the 400m to the mile to women athletes whose blood testosterone level is below five nmol/L for at least six months. Plus, they will have to maintain a reading below that level going forward to continue as an athlete in those events.
The May 1 ruling by the CAS called the IAAF’s new rule “discrimination” and in the same sentence deemed it “necessary.” Semenya and her lawyers challenged that in a statement Wednesday night.
“I am a woman and I am a world-class athlete,” Semenya said. “The IAAF will not drug me or stop me from being who I am.”
The Los Angeles Times reported that Semenya, 28, has a medical condition known as a “difference of sex development” or DSD, which is marked by levels of natural testosterone that exceed those of most women. The IAAF says that gives Semenya and women like her an unfair advantage over other female athletes, citing testosterone’s effect on muscles and blood oxygen levels. Over the years, Semenya has neither confirmed nor denied she has DSD, saying only she is a woman, and has always been female.
The new IAAF rule has been labeled as unethical by the World Medical Association and other international health agencies. Semenya’s lawyers say they’ll fight it as a violation of human rights.
“The court will be asked to consider whether the IAAF’s requirements for compulsory drug interventions violate essential and widely recognised public policy values, including the prohibition against discrimination, the right to physical integrity, the right to economic freedom, and respect for human dignity,” the attorneys said in their statement.
Dorothee Schramm, who will be leading Semenya’s appeal, added: “The IAAF regulations violate the most fundamental principles of Swiss public policy. In the race for justice, human rights must win over sporting interests.”
Semenya tweeted an interesting message following her appeal: “Expect anything from anyone. The devil was once an angel.”