Published: Fri, April 27, 2018
Sci-tech | By Spencer Schmidt

Caster Semenya Expected To Be Affected By IAAF Rule Changes

Caster Semenya Expected To Be Affected By IAAF Rule Changes

The IAAF released new gender eligibility guidelines this week that ban intersex athletes from competing in middle-distance events from the 400m to the mile in worldwide competition unless they artificially reduce their naturally occurring testosterone through hormone therapy.

Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa has vowed to help Caster Semenya fight the IAAF regulations that are set to force her to take medication to reduce testosterone levels if she hopes to continue running in her preferred races.

"There is a performance advantage in female athletes with DSD (Differences of Sexual Development) over the track distances covered by this rule", Dr. Stephane Bermon, who works in the IAAF medical and science department, said in the statement.

"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 Coe. "It does not want to risk discouraging those aspirations by having unfair competition conditions that deny athletes a fair opportunity to succeed". "South Africans and all progressive people of the world must unite and support Caster and all affected athletes in this regard", she said.

In a press statement, ASA recognised that the female classification process started years ago, up to the point that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) became involved, but stated that they would consult experts on the new ruling. Semenya won gold in the same event at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and has lowered her personal best to 1:55.16, which has her knocking on the door of Jarmila Kratochvílová's 1:53.28 world record.

Similar restrictions brought in by athletics' world governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, were suspended following a legal challenge by the Indian sprinter Dutee Chand in 2015. Clearly it would impact on her performance.

Semenya's dominance was on show for all to see at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, where she cruised to gold in both the 800m and 1 500m.

The rules will apply to women who race in five track events - 400m, 800m, 1500m, one mile and 400m hurdles. These were presented to CAS, but it delayed a definitive decision.

But Sport and Recreation Minister Toko Xasa said she believed the new regulations would impact Semenya negatively in her participation as an athlete in the worldwide arena.

Female-identifying athletes with "Difference of Sexual Development (DSD)"-as coined by the IAAF-are also allowed to switch events without changing their body chemistry, say, for instance, to the steeplechase or the 5K".

"I find it odd that Semenya is considered to be having some kind of advantage but (Zola) Budd ran faster and she didn't even have shoes!"

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