IAAF new rules could drive Semenya out

Federico Mansilla
Abril 27, 2018

The rule will go into effect on November 1.

"We want athletes to have the incentive to make the huge commitment and sacrifice required to excel in the sport, and to inspire new generations to join the sport and aspire to the same excellence", said IAAF president Sebastian Coe.

"The revised rules are not about cheating, no athlete with a DSD [difference of sexual development] has cheated, they are about levelling the playing field to ensure fair and meaningful competition in the sport of athletics where success is determined by talent, dedication and hard work rather than other contributing factors", he added.

The IAAF would allow them to compete at global level only if they took medication to reduce naturally occurring levels of testosterone.

No female would have serum levels of natural testosterone at 5 nmol/L or above unless they have DSD or a tumour. In its decision, the CAS wrote it "was unable to conclude that hyperandrogenic female athletes may benefit from such a significant performance advantage that it is necessary to exclude them from competing in the female category".

The IAAF, however, said on Thursday there was "broad medical and scientific consensus, supported by peer-reviewed data and evidence" to back its position.

Other conditions established by the organization: Female athletes must maintain testosterone levels within the new limits for at least six months and must maintain them continuously, whether in competition or out.

Athletes participating in the 100m, 200m and 100m hurdles are exempt, as are races longer than one mile and field events.

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Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya is expected to be among those affected.

Semenya faces taking daily medication or start racing over 5000 meters. Semenya had to undergone therapy after winning the gold in 800 metres at the 2009 World Championships, to reduce her testosterone levels.

Earlier, women with testosterone levels of 10 nanomoles per litre or more were ineligible to participate in track and field events.

During the four-year period when the IAAF had imposed its testosterone level limits, Semanya continued to rank among the world's fastest middle-distance runners, though her speed was not as explosive as it had been before the policy was implemented.

Neither Semenya nor the IAAF have ever confirmed that she was forced to suppress her natural hormone production. In Rio de Janeiro, Semenya retained her Olympic title, running 1:55.28.

Katrina Karkazis, an expert on testosterone and its effects, who testified when sprinter Chand knocked on the doors of CAS, feels that the IAAF wanted to target women from the Global South - Indian subcontinent and Africa - which specifically means Semenya.

"The ANC has always understood sport as a unifier and a tool to bring people and nations together". Now, IAAF has said that female athletes with 5 or more nanomoles per litre testosterone can not participate in 400m, 800m and 1500m races.

What if an intersex athlete does not wish to comply with the new regulations? "The racial undertones of this can not go unnoticed", it said in a statement.

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