Outrage as Semenya loses battle over new IAAF rules

File: Double Olympic champion Caster Semenya won her last 800 metres race on Friday before the introduction of controversial rules limiting testosterone levels in female athletes.

File: Double Olympic champion Caster Semenya has won the 2000-metres race at the Montreuil athletics in Paris on Tuesday. 


JOHANNESBURG - South Africans have expressed shock and disappointment after Caster Semenya lost a bid to challenge IAAF rules forcing female athletes to regulate their testosterone levels. 

In a landmark ruling, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the IAAF regulations which require women like Semenya, with higher than average natural female testosterone levels, to take medically-prescribed drugs to lower their testosterone levels or be kicked out of competitions.

"We are bitterly disappointed," said Bathabile Dlamini, the minister for women.

"This is a disappointing judgment, it actually removes Caster Semenya's agency as a person, as an athlete, as a person who trains hard," Dlamini said.

READ: Semenya's legal team to review ruling

"As the department of women we are particularly angered (that) we are expected to conform to western notions ...for our athletes to compete".

She said Semenya was being targeted because "she is so successful through her hard training and her dedication".

"It's a violation of her rights as a woman, the violation of her rights as human being".

- 'Beyond outrageous' -

Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa said the "regulations trample on the human rights and dignity" of the 28-year-old who was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people of 2019.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) said it was "appalled" by the court decision.

"It is rather disheartening to learn that the Court has ruled against Caster Semenya in her fight to be treated equally and without prejudice," it said in a statement.

It accused the IAAF of "acting in a prejudicial manner that divides rather than unites athletes." 

READ: Semenya loses battle over new testosterone rule

"Shocked" by the decision, the main opposition Democratic Alliance party called on the government and sporting federations to "use all available processes to oppose this decision and fight for her right to compete on the international stage without having to take any drugs to suppress what she was naturally born to do".

Semenya, who has dominated the 800m over the last decade and had remained largely silent through the court battle, on Wednesday vowed in a statement that the court decision "will not hold me back".

She said she knew "that the IAAF’s regulations have always targeted me specifically. For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger".

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

On social media her fans were furious.