Court’s decision on Semenya an ‘injustice against African women’

Sport

Court’s decision on Semenya an ‘injustice against African women’

Swiss court won’t allow Caster to run 800m without medication and Nathi Mthethwa is having none of it

Journalist
The SA government is considering its options after the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland refused to set aside a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), meaning Caster Semenya can't take part in the 800m.
Champion The SA government is considering its options after the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland refused to set aside a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), meaning Caster Semenya can't take part in the 800m.
Image: Charles Platiau/Reuters

The South African government is set to decide, in the coming days, whether to challenge the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland’s decision not to allow Caster Semenya to run the 800m without taking medication to reduce naturally high levels of testosterone.

Semenya’s lawyers said in a statement on Tuesday that the Swiss court refused to set aside a 2019 ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that women with differences of sexual development (DSD) take hormone-reducing drugs when competing in 400m to mile events, as imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF). 

The ruling means Semenya‚ the Olympic 800m champion in 2012 and 2016‚ won’t be able to defend her title at the Tokyo Games next year without taking medication. Earlier this year she competed in the 200m‚ where female athletes face no restrictions.

Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa said in a statement they would study the judgment and then decide what action to take.

“As the government of democratic SA‚ a country renowned for its tradition of promoting and protecting basic human rights‚ with Athletics SA (ASA)‚ we will study the judgment and consider various options and avenues at our disposal in our collective campaign to fight this injustice.

“We call upon all South Africans‚ Africans and the entire world to rally behind Caster in our quest to defeat injustice against women in sport and, in particular, African women.

“The recent decision of the Swiss federal court to uphold a decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) regarding the IAAF (World Athletics) regulations on female athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) is very unfortunate and offensive to the fundamental human rights of female athletes classified hyperandrogenic.

“The South African government and the global sporting community always held a firm view that these regulations are a gross violation of fundamental human rights of DSD female athletes and therefore rallied behind the appeal by Caster Semenya and Athletics South Africa (ASA) in their legal tussle with the IAAF.

“In March 2019‚ during Human Rights month‚ all political parties represented in parliament of the Republic of South Africa made statements which were unanimous and unambiguous in the condemnation and classification of these regulation as violation of women and human rights, and committed their unequivocal support for Ms Semenya.”

The statement, issued on Tuesday, said Semenya was considering her options‚ noting that the World Medical Association had called on doctors globally to take no part in implementing the regulations.

Her SA-based lawyer‚ Greg Nott‚ said this wasn’t the end of her fight‚ suggesting she could move her battle to Japan‚ the scene of the delayed 2020 Olympics.

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