Going out on top? Caster Semenya wins 800m at Doha Diamond League

South Africa's double Olympic champion claims victory in what could be her last 800m race and says she won't take medication after losing her appeal against IAAF hyperandrogenism regulations.

Caster Semenya threw her bouquet of flowers into the crowd and gave a 'thumbs-up' to the cameras.

The double Olympic champion then beamed a wide smile at the end of a difficult and emotional week.

The 28-year-old had just demolished the field in what may be the last 800m race of her career, clocking 1:54.98 - the eighth fastest time in history - in front of IAAF president Sebastian Coe at the Diamond League opener in Doha.

On Wednesday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled against the double Olympic champion who had hoped to overturn the IAAF's updated hyperandrogenism regulations.

The CAS decision means she would be forced to take medication to reduce her natural levels of testosterone in order to compete in distances from 400m to the mile.

Speaking to the media after her latest win on the track, Semenya said she would not be quitting the sport.

But when asked if she would take medication to continue in her preferred distance, she answered, "Hell, no."

She added, "I know life could be difficult at times but I'm a believer and I believe there is always a way to resolve issues.

"If a wall is placed in front of me, I jump it. I'm going to keep enjoying my life and live it. I will keep on training and running. To me, impossibility is nothing." - Caster Semenya speaking after her 800m win in Doha

Caster Semenya reacts after winning the 800m at the Doha Diamond League
Caster Semenya reacts after winning the 800m at the Doha Diamond LeagueCaster Semenya reacts after winning the 800m at the Doha Diamond League

This was her first 800m race of the season having won the 5,000m (on debut) and 1500m at last week's South African Championships.

It came just over 48 hours after the CAS verdict, with Semenya making a surprise late entry to the Diamond League meet in Qatar.

The 5,000m is a potential long-term option for Semenya who could compete at that distance without taking testosterone-suppressing medication.

The 200m and the 3,000m steeplechase are also possibilities.

"No human can stop me from running," she said defiantly after the race in Doha.

Speaking at the Australian Olympic Committee annual general meeting in Sydney IOC President Thomas Bach said on Saturday the IOC accepts the CAS decision, and he expressed "sympathy" for Semenya: "I must say, I have a lot of sympathy for Caster Semenya being in this position. The issue such as this is extremely complex. It has scientific impact, it has an ethical impact. It has the impact of fair play in the competition. So it's extremely delicate and extremely difficult."

Doha dash then decision

If this was indeed her last 800m race, she produced something special to sign off with.

With the regulations coming into force on Wednesday 8 May, she may not be able to run again over her preferred distance.

In a concession made by the IAAF, Semenya could defend her world title in September if she starts a course of testosterone-reducing medication next week instead of taking six months out as stated in the regulations.

Semenya is not the only athlete with a decision to make before Wednesday.

Burundi's Francine Niyonsaba, second to Semenya again in Doha just as she was at Rio 2016 and last year's World Championships, exclusively told Olympic Channel that she thinks the new IAAF regulations are "about discrimination".

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Semenya's struggle

Semenya had gone to CAS to appeal the IAAF's modified hyperandrogenism rules published in March last year.

They stated that female athletes with a Difference of Sexual Development (DSD) competing at distances between 400 metres and a mile must take medication to reduce their testosterone levels to 5 nmol/L.

After her 2009 World Championship win and subsequent gender verification testing, the IAAF brought in its first set of hyperandrogenism measures in 2011 forcing athletes with DSDs to suppress their testosterone concentrations.

These led to a decline in Semenya's performances, but in 2015 CAS found in favour of Indian sprinter Dutee Chand who had been barred by her national athletics federation from competing at the 2014 Commonwealth Games due to the regulations.

Chand's victory, as told in the Olympic Channel series 'Foul Play', saw the IAAF hyperandrogenism rules suspended for two years pending further scientific evidence and testing allowing Semenya and others to compete without having to reduce their testosterone levels.

Eventually after a number of delays, the IAAF came up with updated regulations restricted to distances between 400m and a mile which were due to come into effect last November.

Semenya went to CAS who announced their ruling against her on Wednesday.

Despite expressing "serious concerns" over the "application of these DSD regulations", CAS dismissed her appeal.

Her response was defiant.

"I know that the IAAF's regulations have always targeted me specifically. For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of the CAS will not hold me back." - Caster Semenya after Wednesday's verdict

Semenya has until the end of May to appeal the CAS ruling at the Swiss Federal Tribunal but she could also take her case to the European Court of Justice.

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