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Call for medics to ignore new IAAF regulations

Caster Semenya. Picture: 

Caster Semenya. Picture: 

Published Apr 30, 2019


The SA Medical Association (Sama) has thrown its weight behind calls by the World Medical Association (WMA) that physicians around the world take no part in implementing the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) new eligibility regulations for classifying female athletes.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport is expected to rule tomorrow on double Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya’s challenge to the IAAF rule.

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The WMA noted that the regulations from the IAAF required women athletes with specific differences in sex development to medically reduce their natural blood testosterone level if they wished to continue racing as women in a few restricted events.

The WMA referred to Semenya, who has had to undergo gender verification testing to confirm her eligibility to compete in the women’s division.

At the WMA Council meeting in Santiago, Chile, last week, the association demanded the immediate withdrawal of the regulations.

It said they constituted flagrant discrimination based on the genetic variation of female athletes and were contrary to international medical ethics and human rights standards.

The WMA said it was in general considered unethical for physicians to prescribe treatment for excessive endogenous testosterone if the condition was not recognised as pathological.

WMA president Dr Leonid Eidelman said: “We have strong reservations about the ethical validity of these regulations. They are based on weak evidence from a single study, which is currently being widely debated by the scientific community.”

Sama chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee said the body endorsed the demand for the immediate withdrawal of the Differences of Sexual Development rule.

“These practices by the IAAF constitute a systematic affront to the dignity of all female athletes, a position we still firmly hold.

“We support the WMA’s call on physicians to oppose and refuse to perform any test or administer any treatment or medicine which is not in accordance with medical ethics, and which might be harmful to the athlete using it, especially to artificially modifying blood constituents, biochemistry, or endogenous testosterone.”


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