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athletics case Swiss Federal Court: Semenya free to run without medication until appeal heard

Semenya

Caster Semenya won the 800 metre events at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympic Games

(Keystone)

Switzerland’s Federal Court has granted double Olympic champion Caster Semenya the right to compete without medication to lower her testosterone levels until the Federal Court rules on her appeal.

The decision on Monday came one month after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne ruled that the sport’s ruling body, the International Association of Athletics Federationsexternal link (IAAF), should make rules for XY chromosome athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs), like Semenya, competing in events ranging from 400 metres to a mile.

The CAS had indicated that requiring athletes with DSD to take medication to lower testosterone levels was discriminatory but was a “necessary, reasonable and appropriate means” to maintain fair play for all.

The controversial CAS verdict was challenged by Semenya, from South Africa, who appealed to Switzerland’s Federal Court. No timeframe has been given for when a final ruling might be made, but the decision on Monday provides Semenya with temporary protection.

Run free

“The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland has ordered the IAAF to immediately suspend the implementation of the eligibility regulations against Caster Semenya, allowing her to compete without restriction in the female category while her appeal is pending,” a statement from Semenya’s lawyers said.

Semenya was pleased with the decision. “I am thankful to the Swiss judges for this decision. I hope that following my appeal I will once again be able to run free,” she said.

The final decision will have wide-reaching consequences for gender politics and science and could set a precedent for all women’s sports, not just athletics. The South African runner has unusually high testosterone levels for a woman.

Semenya won her last competitive 800 metres race at the Doha Diamond League meeting on May 3 and could potentially race again in Oslo on June 13.

Keystone-SDA/Reuters/jdp

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