South African athletics body to challenge new IAAF testosterone rules

South Africa’s athletics body on Thursday said it would challenge a decision by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to introduce new rules on testosterone levels in female athletes.

The IAAF changes mean that some female runners with naturally high testosterone levels will have to race against men or take medication to reduce the levels of the hormones if they wish to compete in the women’s races.

South African authorities see the new rules as primarily targeting multiple 800m champion Caster Semenya.

In a statement, Athletics South Africa said it would challenge the new regulations because it “found them to be skewed”.

The body referred to the case of Indian 100m and 200m runner Dutee Chand, who went through her own legal battle against the IAAF and won.

The new Regulations, approved by the IAAF Council in March, are set to come into effect from 1 November 2018, and will replace the previous Regulations Governing Eligibility of Females with Hyperandrogenism to Compete in Women’s Competition.

Semenya – a double Olympic and triple world champion over 800m and who recently completed the 800-1500 double at the Commonwealth Games this month in Gold Coast – has always been a controversial figure in athletics.

The 27-year-old’s powerful physique and deep voice, followed by the revelations of her hyperandrogenism, left some rivals complaining that they faced an impossible and unfair challenge.

The South African began raising eyebrows when she won the world junior championships in 2008 and the senior world title the following year.

The IAAF made Semenya take a sexual verification test, which was initially kept secret but revealed by the media in 2009.