South Africa government ‘instructs’ country’s athletic body to fight for Caster Semenya

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 13: Caster Semenya of South Africa celebrates wins gold in the Women's 800 metres final during athletics on day nine of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Stadium on April 13, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The South African government said on Monday it was “instructing” the country’s athletics governing body to appeal the Court of Arbitration for Sport decision against Caster Semenya.

DOHA, QATAR – MAY 03: Caster Semenya of South Africa races to the line to win the Women’s 800 meters during the IAAF Diamond League event at the Khalifa International Stadium on May 03, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

CAS ruled that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) could demand women runners with differences of sex development (DSD) take medication to lower naturally occurring high levels of testosterone before being allowed to compete in women’s races from 400m to a mile.

The ruling directly impacts athletes like Olympic 800m champion Semenya.

South Africa’s athletic body, Athletics South Africa (ASA) maintained silence on the matter but South Africa’s sports minister Tokozile Xasa, who has no direct authority over ASA, said in a statement she was making the instruction after receiving advice from a high-level panel.

Xasa’s claim followed a similar call from South Africa’s Olympic chiefs last week and she went a step further by confidently predicting ASA would appeal and then summarising three grounds for that appeal in her statement.

Semenya has until the end of May to appeal.