Caster Semenya says the global athletics governing body has used her as “a human guinea pig” by forcing her to take medication that would limit her testosterone levels.
The double Olympic gold medallist made the comment after the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) released its 163-page report on Tuesday, explaining why it rejected her appeal last month to scrap rules that cap an athlete’s natural level of the primary male hormone.
Eligibility requirements laid out by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) stipulate that female athletes with differences in sexual development (DSD) must take medication to suppress testosterone when competing in events from 400m to a mile.
But Semenya, who has XY chromosomes, says the medications make her feel “constantly sick”, recalling the period between 2011 and 2015 when she was forced to comply with regulations.
Stricter testosterone limits have since been devised, which Semenya has warned hold “unknown health consequences”.
She added: “I am concerned that other female athletes will feel compelled to let the IAAF drug them and test the effectiveness and negative health effects of different hormonal drugs.”
“This cannot be allowed to happen.”
Earlier this year, the IAAF said DSD athletes should not be considered as “biologically male”, but Tuesday’s report suggests this opinion has been reversed.
In response, Semenya’s lawyers criticised the athletics body for “taking it upon itself to decide who is, and who is not, woman enough in the eyes of the IAAF, and to discriminate on that basis”.
It said the regulations amounted to “sex testing” that had “plagued women’s sport for decades” and had “caused profound harm to women athletes”.
But the IAAF has defended its regulations, maintaining that “biology has to trump gender identity to ensure fairness” in sport.
It added: “To define the female category based on something other than biology would be category defeating and would deter many girls around the world from choosing competitive and elite sport after puberty.
“The IAAF considers that the DSD Regulations are a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of protecting fair and meaningful competition in elite female athletics, and the CAS agreed.”
The South African athlete is set to appeal last month’s decision in a Swiss Federal Court, but a date is yet to be set.
Until then, the 28-year-old is able to compete in all events without taking the hormone-suppressing medication.
Latest posts by Lilian Osigwe (see all)
- Forced sterilisation in South Africa: They removed my uterus - February 27, 2020
- Apple to open first Indian store in 2021 - February 27, 2020
- Unromantic signs that mean you’ve found your soulmate - February 27, 2020