Swiss court rejects IAAF appeal against Semenya

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Caster Semenya poses prior to the 2018 Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco. (Photo by Simon Hofmann/Getty Images for Laureus)
Caster Semenya poses prior to the 2018 Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco. (Photo by Simon Hofmann/Getty Images for Laureus)

South African Olympic champion Caster Semenya will be allowed to compete without restriction after the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland rejected an urgent request by the IAAF to re-impose eligibility regulations on the athlete.

The Swiss Supreme Court upheld an order issued on May 31, requiring the IAAF to suspend eligibility rules against Semenya, stressing in the ruling that the Athletics body had not brought forward any new arguments to justify a reconsideration of the prior order.

In statement by Semenya’s lawyers, the IAAF and Athletics South Africa now have until June 25 to make submissions to the Swiss Court with regards to the ruling.

The South African star has been prevented from competing in the 800m race at the IAAF Diamond League in Rabat, Morocco on June 16, in an apparent violation of the Swiss Supreme Court’s order.

She received a notification on June 11 from the President of the Moroccan Athletics Federation, denying her participation – something she is now seeking clarity on from the IAAF.

“No woman should be subjected to these rules. I thought hard about not running the 800m in solidarity unless all women can run free. But I will run now to show the IAAF that they cannot drug us,” she said.

The IAAF rules stated that women whose natural testosterone levels exceed 5 nmol/L must lower the levels beneath that threshold and maintain it continuously for at least six months before a competition. The body maintains that increased natural testosterone levels give competitors an unfair advantage.

Semenya, however, who intends to run the 800m at the Prefontaine Classic in California on June 30, watered down a statement by the IAAF, which said the body was committed to the full participation of women in sport.

“I am a woman, but the IAAF has again tried to stop me from running the way I was born,” she said. “The IAAF questions my sex, causes me great pain and required me to take hormonal drugs that made me feel constantly sick and unable to focus for many years. No other woman should be forced to go through this in order to have the same right that all women have – to do what we love and run the way we were born.”

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