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  • Two-time Olympic and triple world champion, South Africa runner, Caster Semenya struggles with abnormally high testosterone levels.

    Two-time Olympic and triple world champion, South Africa runner, Caster Semenya struggles with abnormally high testosterone levels. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 March 2019

IAAF to request seperate athletes according to the differences of sexual development (DSD) and hormone levels.

In its efforts to force athletes to regulate testosterone levels, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) could be violating international human rights laws, the United Nations said this week.

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The case of two-time Olympic and triple world champion, South Africa runner, Caster Semenya has drawn considerable attention lately after the IAFF said the female athlete’s abnormally high testosterone levels gave her an unfair advantage over her rivals.

The 28-year-old distance runner’s rare medical condition caused the IAAF to request athletes be seperated in classes depending on their DSD (differences of sexual development). Semenya- and other "hyperandrogenic" athletes- should medically reduce their blood testosterone level or compete against men in order to “level the playing field,” IAAF officials said.

The U.N. weighed in on the controversial case in an open letter to the sports federation this week, calling the classification proposal, “unjustifiable” and passed a resolution calling on the international community to “refrain from developing and enforcing policies and practices that force, coerce or otherwise pressure women and girl athletes into undergoing unnecessary, humiliating and harmful medical procedures.”

The resolution, co-sponsored by Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland), Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Burundi, India, Iceland and Canada, is “aimed at eliminating discrimination against women and girls in sport, giving significant global weight from a human rights perspective to Caster Semenya’s case.”

South Africa’s minister of international relations and cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, said, “The international campaign to preserve Caster’s right to participate in global sports is a struggle for all women in the world against discrimination, sexism, and patriarchy.”

Semanya's attorneys say the athlete is hopeful that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will declare the IAAF case "invalid" when it reviews the proposlas in April.


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