Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

South Africa’s 800m Olympian Caster Semenya is set to take part in what could be her final race tonight in Doha, Qatar.
Jon Connell/Flickr
NewsDemand Equity

Caster Semenya Won’t Be Allowed to Defend Her World Championship Title After Court Ruling

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Global Citizen campaigns on the UN Global Goals including Goal 5 for gender equality, which promotes and protects the rights of all women and girls.  You can join the movement by taking action here to help achieve equality.

Caster Semenya has experienced yet another set back in her ongoing row with the International Association of Athletics Associations (IAAF).

The Swiss Supreme Court on Tuesday announced that it has overturned an earlier ruling to allow Semenya to compete in international events without taking medication to reduce her testosterone levels.

This is a result of the controversial ruling by the IAAF in May stating that female athletes with naturally high testosterone levels have to take hormone-reducing medications, compete with men, or increase their running distance.

The ruling only applies to the pole vault and the 400m hurdles, as well as the 400m, 800m, and 1,500m races.

Semenya competes in the 400m, 800m, and 1,500m races — and currently holds the 800m World Championship title.

She continued to compete internationally after the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which specialises in internal sports-related disputes, overturned in June the IAAF’s ruling while Semenya and her team appealed against the initial ruling.

Related Stories May 3, 2019 Olympian Caster Semenya Could Race for the Last Time as South Africans Rally Behind Her

Now that Semenya has to follow the IAAF’s regulations, and take medicine or stop competing against other women, she won’t be able to compete at the World Championships — being held in September in Doha, capital of Qatar.

Semenya has spoken out against  the IAAF’s regulations, and says they are an attack on her career.

In a statement released by her lawyers after the May ruling, Semenya said: “I know that the IAAF’s regulations have always targeted me specifically. For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger.”

Related Stories May 14, 2019 Athletics South Africa Is Going To Appeal Testosterone Ruling Against Caster Semenya

And the latest setback, Semenya says, won’t stop her from challenging the IAAF.

“I am very disappointed to be kept from defending my hard-earned title, but this will not deter me from continuing my fight for the human rights of all of the female athletes concerned,” she said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the IAAF, which has always insisted that the regulations are not a personal attack on Semenya, welcomed the decision by the Swiss court.

Related Stories June 4, 2019 Caster Semenya Can Run Again (For Now) After Swiss Court Suspends Testosterone Ruling

In a statement released through its website, the IAAF said: “This decision creates much needed parity and clarity for all athletes as they prepare for the World Championships in Doha this September.”

The statement added: “The IAAF will maintain its position that there are some contexts, sport being one of them, where biology has to trump gender identity, which is why the IAAF believes (and the CAS agreed) that DSD [differences of sexual development] Regulations are a necessary, reasonable, and proportionate means of protecting fair and meaningful competition in elite female athletics.”