The world athletics governing body said it would seek to reverse a Swiss court decision to allow controversial women’s athlete Caster Semenya to temporarily race without taking testosterone-reducing medication.
The International Association of Athletics Federationsexternal link (IAAF) issued a statementexternal link on Wednesday protesting that it had not been able to put its case to the Swiss Federal Court. The court on Tuesday issued a “superprovisional order” that lifted restrictions on the athlete competing until her appeal is heard in full.
This order gives Semenya leave to race without testosterone-reducing medication until June 25, giving the athlete temporary relief from a previous decision taken by the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sportexternal link (CAS).
The IAAF has objected to the Swiss court’s intervention, stating that the hearing “was requested and issued without the IAAF’s knowledge”. This meant that the athletics organisation had been unable to argue its position to the court.
The IAAF said it was committed to the “full participation of women” in athletics and respects “each individual’s personal dignity”, but added: “However, the IAAF is convinced that there are some contexts, sport being one of them, where biology has to trump identity.”
The IAAF said it would therefore seek a “swift reversion” of Tuesday’s Federal Court decision to allow Semenya to compete for the time being. 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.
While being recognised as female, Semenya has both X and Y chromosomes that produce high levels of testosterone. The IAAF, backed by CAS, insists that she take medication to reduce her testosterone levels before being allowed to race again.