South Africa’s opposition party disappointed at “unfair” ruling on Olympic champion

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Semenya
Semenya

South Africa’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) on Wednesday voiced disappointment over an “unfair” ruling on the country’s Olympic champion Caster Semenya.

“We are disappointed at this unfair judgement as it discriminates against female athletes who happen to have higher testosterone levels in their bodies,” said Tsepo Mhlongo, DA Shadow Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture.

The Swiss Federal Tribunal on Tuesday decided not to overturn last year’s ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which ordered Semenya to take medication to reduce her naturally occurring high testosterone levels before she could compete in events between 400 meters and 1,500 meters.

Under World Athletics guidelines introduced last year, Semenya would have to take testosterone-reducing drugs in order to compete in the races from 400m to a mile. But the 29-year-old has chosen not to do it.

“To arbitrarily dictate on the bodies of women athletes in this manner infringes on their human rights and tramples on their dignity,” Mhlongo said.

The ruling also sets an awful precedent for the treatment of women in sport, he said.

Mhlongo called on the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the South African government to use all available legal avenues to show the country’s opposition to this decision and fight for Semenya’s right to compete on the international stage without having to take any drugs to suppress what she was naturally born to do – being an international champion.

In June last year, Semenya and Athletics South Africa filed with CAS after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said it would introduce new regulations set to limit testosterone in athletics with “differences of sex development.”

Semenya and ASA said these regulations were “invalid, discriminatory and unnecessary.”

The IAAF claims that female athletes with natural high levels of testosterone have an unfair advantage over other female runners.

The proposed new regulation are only applied to 400m, hurdle races and 800m, which Semenya dominates.

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