CASTER Semenya. I Noushad Thekkayil EPA
Caster Semenya’s fight-back against the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) controversial female eligibility rules has started in earnest, with the filing an appeal to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.

The South African track sensation will be challenging the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling in favour of the IAAF earlier this month.

“I am a woman, and I am a world-class athlete. The IAAF will not drug me or stop me from being who I am,” Semenya said. Her appeal to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court challenging the IAAF rules, on human rights grounds, will be led by Dr Dorothee Schramm of Sidley Austin LLP in Geneva.

“The IAAF regulations violate the most fundamental principles of Swiss public policy. In the race for justice, human rights must win,” Schramm said. The rules require Semenya and other athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) to lower testosterone concentration to five nanomoles per litre of blood, to compete in the 400m to one-mile (1.6km) events on an international level.

But Semenya has refused to take testosterone-lowering medication, confident the ruling will be overturned. Law professor Steve Cornelius, who assisted Athletics SA in its legal challenge to the regulations, said he expected the national athletics body to file their appeal over the next few days.

In its ruling, the CAS found that, while discriminatory, DSD regulations were “a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics in restricted events.”

“I think Caster will be looking to convince the Swiss court that the ruling was incompatible with public policy, which would be similar to something being in violation of the Constitution,” Cornelius said.

“That is why they would take the human rights angle, because Switzerland has ratified the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Semenya’s South African lawyer Gregory Nott of Norton Rose Fulbright said: The IAAF has called on doctors to ‘clarify’ the gender identities of female athletes and justified medical interventions on female athletes as ‘gender-affirming’.”

“Such views are based not in modern science or medicine. Instead, they reflect an outdated and deeply flawed socio-cultural stereotype of what it means to be a woman.”

CAPE TIMES