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Sport: S/Africa’s human rights body intervenes in Semenya case

Olympic star Caster Semenya will get help in her case against World Athletics from the South African Human Rights Commission…

Olympic star Caster Semenya will get help in her case against World Athletics from the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) at the Swiss Federal Supreme Court during a hearing set for October, APA learnt on Friday.World Athletics barred Semenya from running after he changed rules for her and other female athletes due to what he said were high testosterone levels that gave them advantage of other female athletes. 

As a compromise, World Athletics president Sebastian Coe ordered Semenya to take drugs to reduce her testosterone levels if she wanted to run in the 800m category — or she should change her run to the 400m or in 1500m distances.

Semenya refused to do this, and the SAHRC is seeking to overturn the ruling by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court which upheld a Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling to maintain World Athletics’ change in competition eligibility rules for her and the other females.

The regulations, known as the Difference of Sex Development (DSD) rules, barred the female athletes – including Semenya — who have what the athletics body called “high levels of endogenous testosterone” from competing on the international stage unless they reduced and maintained low blood testosterone levels.

With Semenya’s refusal, she was effectively barred from defending her 2016 Rio Olympic title in Tokyo and her 2018 world championship after the rules came into effect in 2018.

SAHRC said it had applied to be part of the proceedings as a third party because the regulations have an impact specifically on Southern African (black) athletes.

“The commission sought leave to intervene in the matter so as to elucidate the adverse impacts of World Athletics’…regulations on women from the Global South,” the commission said.

It added: “In particular, the commission wishes to make submissions to the (court) which demonstrate the discriminatory effect of the regulations on the intersecting grounds of race and gender, and which further show how the impugned regulations breach Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and/or Article 3 (prohibition of torture) of the [European court].”

The commission said it would make written submissions to the European court by 12 October this year.

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