Court Rules That Runner Caster Semenya Must Take Medication to Reduce Testosterone If She Wants to Compete

Caster Semenya of Team Africa celebrates victory following the Womens 800 Meter during day two of the IAAF Continental Cup at Mestsky Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Photo: Lukas Schulze (Getty Images)

In what might be the most bizarre judgment against an Olympic athlete ever, South African 800m Olympic champion Caster Semenya lost her legal landmark case and now, if she wants to compete in international events between 400m and a mile in length, she will have to take medication to reduce the testosterone that her body naturally produces.

According to the Guardian, three arbitrators from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas), along with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), spent some two months deciding whether or not a dominant female runner, who naturally produces testosterone, should have to take drugs to lower her testosterone levels so she can be more...female.

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This isn’t the first time that Semenya has found herself on the end of some sexist, immoral and ridiculous bullshit. In 2009, Semenya was forced to take a “sex verification” test by the IAAF, in which Semenya proved she was female.

After winning gold in 2016, several of the competitors who lost complained that she had higher level of testosterone. Their only proof was that they’d lost to Semenya, so there had to be a reason. The IAAF agreed and noted that they’d look into it. On Wednesday, the organization came down with its shocking decision that the losers—the snowflakes—were right, Semenya produces too much testosterone and therefore if she wants to compete internationally she has to take drugs to stop her body’s natural production of testosterone.

The weirdest part of all of this is that Cas agreed that the “IAAF’s policy was ‘discriminatory’ to athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs) such as Semenya” and then agreed to discriminate against her, The Guardian reports.

From the Guardian:

It means that all DSD athletes, who are usually born with testes, will have to reduce their testosterone to below five nmol/L for at least six months if they want to compete internationally at distances ranging from 400m to a mile. The IAAF, which welcomed the news, said their policy would come into place on 8 May.

Semenya, who has long argued that her unique genetic gifts should be celebrated not regulated, confirmed that she was considering an appeal and insisted that she believed the DSD regulations would be one day overturned.

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“I know that the IAAF’s regulations have always targeted me specifically,” Semenya added, The Guardian reports. “For a decade, the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of the Cas will not hold me back. I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world.”

Also from the Guardian:

The sports scientist Ross Tucker, who was part of Semenya’s team of experts at Cas last month, believes it will mean the South African will run 800m around seven seconds slower – turning her from a world beater into an also-ran at that event. However she may now decide to step up to 5,000m where the IAAF’s rules on DSD athletes do not apply.

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Cas explained in the verdict that while the DSD Regulations are discriminatory, that didn’t matter because Semenya’s legal team couldn’t prove that the IAAF policy was “invalid.”

As it said in a statement: “The panel found that the DSD Regulations are discriminatory but that, on the basis of the evidence submitted by the parties, such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics in the Restricted Events,” The Guardian reports.

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Semenya’s legal team asked that they take into consideration the health concerns the runner could face by taking a medication to counteract her body’s normal process and asked that they wait to implement DSD Regulations, which is set to take place in seven days.

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“Ms. Semenya believes that the dissenting Cas arbitrator will be shown to be correct and the DSD Regulations will be overturned,” a spokesperson for Semenya said.

“In the interim, Ms. Semenya believes that it is irresponsible for the IAAF to proceed with the implementation of the DSD Regulations in circumstances where the Cas decision makes it abundantly clear that there are serious problems with the regulations that need to be carefully considered and the DSD Regulations will unquestionably cause harm to the women affected by them.”

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About the author

Stephen A. Crockett Jr.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.