Athletics

Caster Semenya appeals to the European Court of Human Rights 

The two-time Olympic women's 800m champion wants to defend her title at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics without taking testosterone-reducing medication.

By Andrew Binner ·

Reigning women's 800m Olympic champion Caster Semenya has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights against a ruling that prevents her from competing in certain track and field athletics events due to a naturally high level of testosterone.

Under World Athletics’ current rules, the South African - and other female athletes with Differences in Sexual Development (DSD) - are not allowed to compete in events from 400m to a mile (1,609m) without taking testosterone-reducing medication.

This would prevent Semenya from defending the Olympic 800m title at the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021.

She announced this latest legal challenge via her social media channels on Thursday (25th February), posting:

“This fight is not just about me, it's about taking a stand and fighting for dignity, equality and the human rights of women in sport. All we ask is to be able to run free as the strong and fearless women we are!! Thank you to all of those who have stood behind me.”

Semenya has dominated the women's 800m since 2009, having won three world championships in addition to her two Olympic gold medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

World Athletics, formerly the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), brought in the Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification in 2018.

In April 2019, Semenya lost a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) appeal against those regulations.

She was prevented from running in the event at the Doha 2019 world championships, before her lawyers then confirmed that they had been unsuccessful in trying to overturn the ruling at Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court in September 2020.

World Athletics welcomed that ruling, saying, "World Athletics remains committed to applying the regulations carefully and sensitively to ensure that 46XY DSD athletes who wish to compete in the female category are able to do so safely and fairly."