Cape Town — The African National Congress (ANC) has joined the chorus of support for South African athlete Caster Semenya.
The Olympic champion is appearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland to challenge rules proposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that would force her to lower her testosterone levels.
Track and field's governing body says it is introducing the rules to create a "level playing field" for other female athletes.
The ANC released a press statement on the matter on Wednesday night, calling the IAAF's ruling "dehumanising".
The statement read: "The African National Congress joins President (Cyril) Ramaphosa and millions of South Africans in expressing support for Caster Semenya, as she challenges the dehumanising ruling of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
"We are encouraged by the resounding support the government and people of South Africa have expressed for our national champion, Caster Semenya. As the minister of sports, Thokozile Xhasa, travels to Switzerland to support Caster and personally convey the support of government and the nation, we commend her bold step to demonstrate to the world that South Africa will never forsake one of its own when subjected to bigotry and dehumanising treatment.
"Ours is a democracy built on a human rights foundation, where the right to have one's human dignity respected and protected, is entrenched in our supreme law. We declare for all the nations of the world to know that our struggles for a just world, underpinned by respect and protection of human rights will never be compromised.
"The legacy bestowed on us by the giants of our liberation struggle such as Nelson Mandela, require of us to lead from the frontlines in demonstrating to the world that its support in declaring apartheid a crime against humanity was never in vain."
The ANC added that it was appalled by the IAAF's actions.
"We will never stand on the sidelines when the human rights legacy of our young democracy is under threat. We call on the international sporting world to raise their voices and condemn the despicable actions of the IAAF, which seek to force Caster Semenya to deny her nature and take drugs to alter what nature bestowed on her."
Semenya won the 800 metre gold medals at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and also won her third world title in London two years ago.