Wayde van Niekerk backs Semenya in IAAF row

Olympic 400 metres champion Wayde van Niekerk has come out in support of fellow South African athlete Caster Semenya in her spat with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Semenya is awaiting the outcome of her appeal to stop the introduction of new regulations by IAAF that would require her to take medicine to limit her natural levels of testosterone.

The IAAF wants female athletes with differences of sexual development who run in events from 400 metres to a mile, to reduce their blood testosterone level to below five (5) nmol/L for a period of six months before they can compete, saying they have an unfair advantage.

“She’s fighting for something beyond just track and field, she’s fighting for woman in sports, in society and I respect her for that,” Van Niekerk told reporters.

“I will support her and with the hard work and talent that she’s been putting into the sport. With what she believes in and what she’s dreaming for, I’ve got a lot of respect for her.

“I really hope and pray that everything just goes from strength to strength for her.”

The South African government also publicly backed Semenya in her case, with Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa saying: “These regulations appear to be specifically targeting Caster Semenya.”

“This is a gross violation of internationally accepted standards of human rights law.”