Semenya barred from defending title over testosterone levels

Caster Semenya will not defend her world title this September after a Swiss court banned the South African runner over her testosterone levels.

The three-time world champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist in the 800 meters must comply with the regulations enforced by the International Association of Athletics Federations in regard to testosterone levels, which were approved by the Court of Arbitration of Sport in a landmark case on May 1, the court ruled.

The new ruling says that in order for Semenya to continue competing in distances that are 1500 meters and shorter, she has to reduce her testosterone levels, which means she would have to take hormone suppressants. Semenya is reportedly hyperandrogenic, meaning she naturally has levels of testosterone that exceed the “normal” limits above 10 nmols/liter.

After the earlier ruling on May 1, the 28-year-old runner and her legal team filed an appeal of the CAS decision, arguing that such regulations are “a violation of human rights,” according to Semenya in a press release.

While the appeal was pending, the Swiss court allowed Semenya to continue competing this summer without taking hormone suppressants to lower her testosterone levels. She won the 800 meters easily at the Prefontaine Classic in June, breaking the tape in 1:55.70. Ajee Wilson, who won the 800-meter title at the USATF Outdoor National Championships this month, finished second to Caster in 1:58.36.

“In this latest decision, the Supreme Court emphasized the strict requirements and high thresholds for the interim suspension of CAS awards and found that these were not fulfilled,” the statement said.

The decision comes at a weighty time, as athletes are now preparing for the World Championships in September. According to the statement, the ruling prevents Semenya from competing at Worlds, where she won the 800-meter title in London in 2017.

“I am very disappointed to be kept from defending my hard-earned title, but this will not deter me from continuing my fight for the human rights of all of the female athletes concerned,” Semenya said in the statement.

“The judge’s procedural decision has no impact on the appeal itself. We will continue to pursue Caster’s appeal and fight for her fundamental human rights,” Dorothee Schramm, the lawyer leading Caster’s appeal, added. “A race is always decided at the finish line.”

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