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Caster Semenya: IAAF rules to limit testosterone levels for female runners

28 April 2018

The IAAF‚ the governing body of world athletics‚ is piloting new eligibility regulations for a separate female classification to be known as an Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development (or DSDs)‚ which will directly impact on Semenya.

"As a federation, we will study the new regulations and compare them with the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) recommendations to see if they are compatible and in line".

Semenya fans didn't take the new rules kindly, criticizing the IAAF's decision.

Semenya now faces taking daily medication or start racing for South Africa at 5,000 meters. Athletes will not be required to undergo surgery to lower hormone levels.

"All testosterone, either naturally occurring or artificially inserted into the body, provides significant performance enhancements", IAAF head Seb Coe said.

"The other really interesting thing is that guided by the new International Olympic Committee transgender policy that lowers the upper limit for testosterone to 5nmol/L, the IAAF are setting their limit at 5nmol/L".

In 2011, athletics' governing body attempted to prohibit female athletes with hyperandrogenism (excessive levels of androgens in the female body) from competing at global events under IAAF guidance.

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But the matter is anything but simple, and the IAAF's latest attempt to grapple with the issue is likely to reopen the divisive and emotionally charged debate over how to verify athletes' sex based on their respective testosterone levels. We continue to produce high quality sportsmen and women and will continue protecting the rights and dignity of our athletes and our member federations, ' said SASCOC president, Gideon Sam.

These new rules are similar to the infamous apartheid Sobukwe Clause used to keep Robert Sobukwe under incarceration, without trial, for as long as the government wished it.

On her Twitter account on Wednesday, Semenya did not comment but posted an image of the statement: "How handsome it is to stay silent when someone expects you to be enraged".

More recently, Semenya completed a 800m and 1500m double at this month's Commonwealth Games, but the athlete has never come close to the 800m world record which has stood for 34 years.

In 2010 she was cleared by the IAAF to compete after 11 months out of the sport, but from 2011 to 2015 was required to take testosterone-suppressing medicine by the governing body in order to compete.

The South African star, who won Olympic gold in the women's 800m races at London 2012 and Rio 2016, has competed under intense scrutiny during her career and had a gender verification test in 2009.

"Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, it has", she said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

Caster Semenya: IAAF rules to limit testosterone levels for female runners