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‘Hell no:’ Caster Semenya won’t take suppressants, will fight rule now in effect

“No man can stop me from running,” says South African Olympian Caster Semenya after winning another 800m and vowing to appeal to compete naturally

Caster Semenya won the 800m in Doha on Friday, May 3, 2019.

Athletic officials in South Africa met Monday to discuss their options in the case of Caster Semenya, the two-time Olympic champion who fought to compete naturally — without drugs that chemically lower her testosterone levels — and lost.

As Sport24 reported, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee hasn’t yet decided whether to appeal last week’s ruling by the Court for Arbitration for Sport, which upheld a proposed policy by the International Association of Athletics Federations to suppress the testosterone of runners like Semenya. The decision can be appealed through the end of May.

“SASCOC continues to stand 100% behind Caster,” said SASCOC president Gideon Sam.

Semenya, for her part, isn’t waiting for a bunch of dudes to decide her fate.

“No man, or any other human, can stop me from running,” the track champion declared in Doha Friday, after winning her 30th consecutive 800m victory in 1 minute, 54.98 seconds, the third-fastest of her career and the eighth-quickest outdoors of all time.

Reporters asked Semenya whether she would ever take testosterone-suppressing medication to keep racing. “Hell no,” she said.

The IAAF rule that requires mandatory suppression of testosterone in all athletes with differences in sexual development, or DSDs, like Semenya, went into effect Wednesday, May 8, meaning Doha may very well have been her last 800m event.

Not in Semenya’s view, however.

“Actions speak louder than words,” she said Friday. “When you are a great champion, you always deliver.”

Among the many athletes around the world standing with Semenya is transgender triathlete Chris Mosier. Semenya is not transgender but her fight to compete has parallels to the issue of trans inclusion.

In 2015, Mosier became the first transgender athlete to earn a spot on Team USA, in the men’s category, and knows a thing or two about testosterone, athletics, and perseverance.

Chris Mosier, right, on Hill.tv Monday
Screengrab via YouTube/Hill.tv

“We know that Michael Phelps was suited to be a swimmer but he may not have been a great sprinter, so he found the sport that he was made for just as Semenya has found the sport she was made for,” Mosier told Hill.TV in an interview posted online on Monday.

He called the decision by the CAS upholding the rule proposed by the IAAF “arbitrary.”

“They are just targeting one element of what might make an athlete a good athlete,” said Mosier.

You can view the interview with The Hill here.

For her part, Semenya is looking ahead, not toward quitting or switching events. The way she sees it, at age 28, she still has 10 years before she retires. In fact, Semenya told reporters her goal right now is to run at the world championships this fall. “It doesn’t matter how I’m going to do it. What matters is I’ll still be here,” she said.