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Testosterone levels Running champion Semenya loses in landmark gender case 


The Court of Arbitration for Sport, CAS, has headquarters in Lausanne.


The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed the appeal of World and Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya against a rule change affecting female athletes with high testosterone levels.  

In a landmark judgment, a panel of three judges in Lausanne concluded that the IAAF - International Association of Athletics Federationsexternal link (IAAF) proposed rules on athletes with differences of sex development (DSD) were indeed discriminatory but "a necessary, reasonable and appropriate means" to maintain fair play for all. 

The Monaco-based IAAF expressed gratitude to the court and announced the rules would come into force next Wednesday. The new rules cover events ranging from 400-metres to a mile.  

The case has fueled debated across the globe and could set a precedent for all women’s sports, not just athletics.  The South African runner is considered to be intersex because she has unusually high testosterone levels for a woman, caused by a hereditary disease. Semenya will now be forced to medicate to suppress her testosterone levels if she wants to defend her world title in September in Doha, Qatar. 

+ Read more background on the case

"I know that the IAAF's regulations have always targeted me specifically," the runner said in a statement released by her lawyers. "For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of the CAS will not hold me back. I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world." 


Semenya has naturally high testosterone levels. Testosterone helps build muscle mass.


A further appeal is possible to Switzerland's supreme court in Lausanne. Federal judges rarely overturn CAS decisions but can intervene if legal process was abused. 


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