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Swiss court allows Caster Semenya to compete without medical intervention

Switzerland’s Supreme Court suspended the IAAF rule that forces women like Caster Semenya of South Africa to suppress their testosterone in order to compete.

IAAF Diamond League - Doha 2019
Caster Semenya prior to winning the Women’s 800 meter during the IAAF Diamond League event at the Khalifa International Stadium on May 03, 2019 in Doha, Qatar,
Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images

Less than a week after South African Olympian Caster Semenya filed an appeal with Switzerland’s Supreme Court, the Swiss justices have temporary suspended the International Association for Athletic Federations regulations for female athletes with “differences of sex development” or DSD.

The swift decision means Semenya is immediately free to compete in races of all distances without medication to suppress her naturally elevated levels of testosterone.

”I am thankful to the Swiss judges for this decision,” Semenya told reporters. “I hope that following my appeal I will once again be able to run free.”

Semenya also reacted to the good news with two tweets, one declaring that she was “born a winner,” and the other bearing a message from the late Mahatma Gandi: ”Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Her South African attorney told The Independent that Semenya won her appeal against the controversial IAAF ruling, which mandated that in order to compete in track events from 400m to the mile, she had to take artificial hormones to lower her testosterone levels.

On May 29, Semenya filed her appeal of the 2-1 ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which upheld the IAAF’s rule change. But Monday’s decision by the Swiss Supreme Court suspends that ruling, and reports say it will remain in place until the 28-year-old’s appeal has been finalized.

ESPN reported that could take up to a year or more, meaning Semenya might be cleared to run unrestricted in her favored event in remaining Diamond League meetings and the worlds in Doha, Qatar, in September and October.

And according to the sports network, the ruling may have implications for athletes besides Semenya. Among the athletes who say they are impacted by the IAAF rule change are Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya, both Olympic medalists in the 800.

It’s not known how many other female athletes are affected. The IAAF claims there are dozens in elite athletics.