The world’s sports court will decide Wednesday on South African runner Caster Semenya’s challenge against rules regulating testosterone in female athletes, a verdict expected to have a profound impact on the future of women’s sport.
Semenya, a double Olympic champion, is fighting regulations imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that compel “hyperandrogenic” athletes — or those with “differences of sexual development” (DSD) — to lower their testosterone levels if they wish to compete as women
According to the IAAF,the rules are essential to preserve a level playing field and ensure that all female athletes can see “a path to success.”
But Semenya’s cause has earned widespread support, including by a global coalition of nations and scientific experts who argue that testosterone is an arbitrary and unfair measure for determining gender.
Semenya, who has dominated the 800m race over the last decade, has remained largely silent through the court battle, excluding statements from her legal team condemning the IAAF’s tactics and policies.
But scores of others have vocally rallied behind her. Her most fervent support has come from her native South Africa, where the government has accused the IAAF of seeking to violate women’s bodies and levelled racism charges against the athletics governing body.
The IAAF rules capping testosterone levels in women athletes at five nanomoles per litre (nmol/L) of blood were instituted in November 2018 but have been suspended pending Wednesday’s verdict by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.