Parliament backs Semenya

Sunday, May 5, 2019

The Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation says it is disappointed with the outcome of Caster Semenya’s appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). 

On 1 May, Semenya lost her landmark case against the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) in its bid to change its rules for female athletes with higher testosterone levels, who compete in the 400m to 1 500m events. 

"The CAS has dismissed both requests for arbitration. Caster Semenya and ASA [Athletics South Africa] requested that the DSD regulations be declared invalid and void with immediate effect.

"By majority, the CAS panel has dismissed the requests for arbitration, considering that the claimants were unable to establish that the DSD regulations were ‘invalid’.

“The panel found that the DSD regulations are discriminatory but the majority of the panel found 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,” CAS said in a statement.

The regulations would require women with naturally elevated levels of testosterone to lower it to below five nanomoles for at least six months. The rules target female athletes competing in the distances between 400m to 1 500m, which are the events Semenya excels in internationally.

The ruling effectively means Semenya will not be able to compete in these events, unless she lowers her testosterone to the required levels.

CAS took the decision after South Africa’s 800-metre double Olympic champion appealed the new set of regulations from the IAAF, which separate female classification for athletes with hyperandrogenism to participate in the female athletics categories and the conditions under which they would be allowed to compete.

On Friday, 3 May, Semenya won the Women’s 800m race at the IAAF Diamond League race in Doha on Friday evening.

The portfolio committee chairperson, Beauty Dlulane, called for a further review of rules pertaining to female athletes.

“The committee will support the decision of Ms Semenya’s legal team going forward.”

Dlulane also called on the sixth democratic Parliament to continue to support Semenya. -