Part of being an elite athlete is tuning out the noise when others say you can’t win and pushing through to victory anyway.
For most greats, that statement means pulling off a stunning comeback in the late stages of a game. But for Caster Semenya, that means just showing up and competing.
At the beginning of September, the out lesbian runner lost an appeal before the Swiss Federal Supreme Court to be allowed to run her signature 800m race without being forced to take testosterone-reducing drugs.
When the verdict was announced, it was assumed that this was Semenya’s last effort to be allowed to enter such a competition. According to World Athletics, the sport’s ruling body, women with naturally high levels of testosterone are banned from any race longer than 400 meters unless they agree to take such medication.
However, according to a report from international sports blog Inside the Games, Semenya’s lawyer Gregory Nott has announced they are considering challenging the ruling before the European Court of Human Rights.
The ECHR is a judicial organization dedicated to ruling on civil and human rights-related cases and is overseen by the Council of Europe. In order for the court to hear such a case, a person or organization must first submit a complaint.
That is currently what Semenya’s legal team is mulling over at the moment. As Inside the Games’s Liam Morgan reported, they are currently at the paperwork stage of the process with Nott predicting that this step will take “a few more months.”
Nott further revealed that Semenya was not deterred by the Swiss Supreme Court’s ruling, declaring that “She took it strongly and very well. She is also up for further fighting.” Semenya’s battle was also recently bolstered by the formation of a new coalition of former athletes, scientists, and doctors supporting her cause called #LetHerRun.
For their part, World Athletics issued a statement reading, “For many years, World Athletics has fought for and defended equal rights and opportunities for all women and girls in our sport today and in the future.”
That’s an interesting claim to make. It’s kind of hard to say you’re defending equal rights and opportunities for all women when you’re literally trying to force one of them to take drugs in order to race.
Despite that massive and obvious contradiction, the courts have seen things World Athletics’ way so far. But as the ECHR might soon find out, Caster Semenya didn’t become an Olympic gold medalist by giving up easily.