Caster Semenya is “optimistic” of victory in her appeal against IAAF rules designed to control naturally high levels of testosterone in female athletes, the two-time Olympic 800-metre champion’s lawyers said Friday.
The rules proposed by track and field’s governing body, which haven’t yet come into effect, would require female athletes with naturally high levels of testosterone to lower those levels either by medication or surgery in order to be eligible to compete at top track meets. The regulations would apply to distances ranging from 400 meters to one mile.
South African Semenya is also a three-time world champion. She’s the most famous of a number of female athletes who have high levels of naturally occurring testosterone. The IAAF argues that gives them an unfair advantage over other female athletes.
Semenya has challenged the IAAF’s proposed rules at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“Caster Semenya remains optimistic the CAS will declare the IAAF’s regulations unlawful, invalid and of no effect,” her lawyers said in a statement. “This outcome would prevent women athletes from ever having to undergo medical interventions in an attempt to comply with these regulations.”
The statement came a day after the CAS, sport’s highest court, said a decision in the pivotal case would be delayed until the end of April to allow for more legal debate.
The delay, which is down to extra evidence being submitted by both sides, raised a possible complication for Semenya and other athletes with what the IAAF refers to as “differences of sexual development.”
The proposed testosterone regulations require athletes to suppress their high levels for at least six months prior to competing at world-class events like the Diamond League, world championships or the Olympics. But the CAS decision will now come five months before this year’s world championships in Doha, Qatar.
The IAAF said if it wins the CAS case, and its regulations are upheld, Semenya and other affected athletes would be given a “special transition provision” to comply with the new testosterone limits. They will have one week from the date the CAS decision is released to comply, the IAAF said, and if they do they will be eligible to compete at the worlds.
One of the ways for athletes to reduce their testosterone levels is by taking daily medication similar to a birth control pill.
Semenya’s lawyers confirmed she had submitted extra evidence “in response to post-hearing communications from the IAAF.” Details of the case are confidential.