South Africa: Court of Arbitration for Sport to Hear IAAF Vs Semenya Case

South Africa's two-time Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya arrives at the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday February 18, 2019.
18 February 2019

South Africa is rallying behind Caster Semenya as her hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CSA) kicks off in Switzerland this morning.

The arbitration proceedings are expected to be confidential and Semenya is not permitted to discuss the case publicly. This includes referring to any submission or position that may or may not have been taken by any party within the confidential proceeding.

Semenya is challenging the eligibility of the new regulations of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).

The regulations separate female classification for athletes with the hyperandrogenism to participate in the female athletics categories and the conditions under which they would be allowed to compete.

Hyperandrogenism is defined as a medical condition characterised by excessive levels of androgens ("male" sex hormones like testosterone) in the female body.

The IAAF regulations mean that such athletes, including Semenya, will have to reduce and then maintain their testosterone levels to no greater than five-nanomoles of testosterone per litre of blood (5nmol/L) by 1 November 2018 if they want to compete in events ranging from 400 meters to a mile.

The IAAF argue that the World and Olympic 800m champion should be classified as female but also as a "biological male". It believes that female athletes with high testosterone have an advantage of up to 9% over women with normal levels of testosterone.

Semenya and her lawyers - global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright - will state her case, which is about the rights of women who are born as women, reared and socialised as women, who have been legally recognised as women for their entire lives, who have always competed in athletics as women, and who should be permitted to compete in the female category without discrimination.

Government, through the Department of Sport, has also established a high-level panel consisting of the medical and legal workstreams who have prepared a formidable case.

The legal team will also appear before CAS to present the case in support of the case lodged by both Athletic South Africa (ASA) and Semenya.

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