Government supports Caster Semenya in legal battle

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) has expressed that it stands in solidarity, with unwavering commitment, to seek justice for Caster Mokgadi Semenya as she is back in the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in France.

The court will reportedly consider whether the double Olympic champion must lower her testosterone levels in order to participate in competitions.

“The department is committed to advocating for fairness and equality in sport.  As the country celebrates 30 Years of Democracy, every athlete, regardless of their gender or physical attributes, should have the right to compete without facing unjust obstacles.

"We trust that the Grand Chamber's judgment will uphold these principles and deliver a positive outcome for Caster and all athletes affected by similar challenges,” DSAC Acting Director-General, Dr Cynthia Khumalo, said on Wednesday.

Government is working in collaboration with the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF),, and various other stakeholders to support Semenya on the matter.

“The DSAC notes the hearing scheduled for Wednesday, 15 May 2024, where the Grand Chamber will evaluate the matter presented by the Swiss government in relation to the European Court of Human Rights’ July 2023 decision. Caster Semenya has endured years of unfair discrimination based on her gender.

“The 2019 regulations imposed by the World Athletics body created significant challenges for athletes with Differences in Sex Development (DSD), who wish to compete in their chosen sport. This ruling reaffirmed the international legal requirement for World Athletics to refrain from engaging in discriminatory practices, barring exceptional circumstances,” the DSAC said.

The CGE has called on all to rally behind Semenya’s endeavour to seek justice not only for herself, but for other affected athletes.

“A finding by the Grand Chamber that issues between international athletics bodies, such as World Athletics and individual athletes, are not a matter of private law but of public human rights law are transformative and progressive.

"A favourable outcome will be of massive importance to athletes with differences in sexual development worldwide,” Chairperson of the CGE, Advocate Nthabiseng Sepanya-Mogale said. 

READ | Kodwa welcomes Court's ruling on Semenya's appeal

DSAC said the referral to the Grand Chamber is in accordance with the violations identified by the Court in Switzerland vs Caster Mokgadi Semenya.

“These violations encompassed a breach of the prohibition on discrimination, a denial of the right to an effective remedy, and a failure to respect private life.

“Government, through the department, has consistently advocated and supported initiatives aimed at resolving this matter equitably. The DSAC remains optimistic that the Grand Chamber's decision will reflect the values of justice, inclusivity and diversity that underpin the South African sporting sector,” DSAC said. –