Olympic and world champion 800-meter star Caster Semenya has filed an appeal to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland regarding the IAAF and Court of Arbitration for Sport's new regulations to limit testosterone levels for athletes with a difference in sex development.
"I am a woman and I am a world-class athlete," Semenya said in a statement. "The IAAF will not drug me or stop me from being who I am."
Semenya, 28, is asking the Swiss Federal Supreme Court to discard the CAS (an independent organization that helps settle disputes through arbitration) decision in its entirety. On May 1st, CAS ruled that Semenya and other athletes will have to take medication to reduce their testosterone levels if they want to compete against other women at the international level. CAS believed the rule was 'necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF's aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics.'
Under the new rule, athletes with differences in sexual development will have to keep their testosterone levels under 5 nanomoles per liter. In the IAAF's case, they noted that elite female athletes tend to have natural testosterone levels of approximately .12 to 1.79 nanomoles per liter. If an athlete with naturally higher levels of testosterone opts not to take medication, they will have to race against men or compete in a division against intersex athletes—if that is presented as an option. The rule impacts athletes in events from 400 meters to the mile. Athletes with differences of sexual development will have to undergo a blood test on May 8 to monitor their eligibility for the IAAF World Championships in September or 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, if they wish to compete in those distances.
After her win in the 800 meters at the Doha Diamond League meet on May 3, Semenya has told reporters that she will not take any medication to comply with the new rules. She will be racing in a 2,000-meter race in France on June 11th and in the 3,000 meters at the Prefontaine Classic at Stanford University on June 30th. Both races avoid the new rule on testosterone limits.
If the rule holds up after the appeal, Semenya would not be able to defend her gold medal in the 800 meters at the 2019 IAAF World Championships this fall. Semenya has no plans of retiring so an unsuccessful appeal would mean she has to move up in distance to the 5,000 meters or down to the 200 meters, where her medal chances are not as great.