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  • The 28-year-old distance runner Caster Semenya has said she does not wish to take medication to change who she is and how she was born.

    The 28-year-old distance runner Caster Semenya has said she does not wish to take medication to change who she is and how she was born. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 May 2019

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling opened the “wounds of the apartheid” to justify their decision.

Forcing Olympic 800m champion, Caster Semenya, to medically reduce her abnormally high testosterone levels is discrimination, Athletics South Africa (ASA) said after the ruling of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) was announced Wednesday.

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"We are reeling in shock at how a body held in high esteem like Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) can endorse discrimination without flinching," said ASA in a statement.

The 28-year-old distance runner’s rare medical condition has drawn considerable attention lately after the CAS ruled the regulations were necessary for athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs) to ensure fair competition.

Under the rules, female athletes who have high natural levels of testosterone will have to reduce their levels through medication to under 5 nmol/L, which is double the normal female range of below 2 nmol/L.

The court suggested the regulations be limited to events between 400- and 800-meters due to a lack of evidence that testosterone has a significant effect beyond these distances.

“We believe their decision is disgraceful," the ASA said, adding that the decision “goes to lengths to justify” discrimination, opening the “wounds of the apartheid” to prove their decision was "necessary, reasonable and proportionate" to protect "the integrity of female athletics."

Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane from Sonke Gender Justice, a non-governmental organization, said: “Essentially it’s reverse doping and it’s disgusting. The decision will have far-reaching implications, not just on Caster Semenya, but it will also apply to transgender and intersex people.”

Around the world, critics have voiced their doubts over the practical application and implementation of such a regulation.

Semenya has said she does not wish to take medication to change who she is and how she was born, and wants to compete naturally.

“I know that the IAAF’s regulations have always targeted me specifically,” Semenya, 28, from South Africa, said in a statement released via her lawyers.

“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. I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world.”

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