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South Africa’s Semenya Files Appeal Against IAAF Ruling

Two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya filed a legal challenge Wednesday in a Swiss court to block a ruling made this month that required the South African middle-distance runner to artificially lower the testosterone level in her bloodstream to compete in certain women’s events. Her appeal, her lawyers said in a news release, “focuses on fundamental human rights.”

“I am a woman and I am a world-class athlete. The IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) will not drug me or stop me from being who I am,” Semenya, 28, said in a statement after filing the appeal.

New rules from the International Association of Athletics Federations mandate that Semenya and other women whose natural testosterone levels exceed 5 nmol/L must lower the levels beneath that threshold and maintain it continuously for at least six months before a competition. The IAAF maintains that increased natural testosterone levels give competitors an unfair advantage. The Court of Arbitration for Sport, based in Switzerland, issued a 2-1 decision May 1 upholding the IAAF’s rule.

“Such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics,” the CAS declared in its decision

South African Semenya lost an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on May 1 which ruled the IAAF’s regulations were necessary for athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs) to ensure fair competition.

The statement added that Semenya will ask the Swiss Federal Supreme Court to set aside CAS’s decision in its entirety, which it said did not consider medical protocols and uncertain health consequences of taking testosterone-reducing medication.

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