Swiss court’s ruling on Caster Semenya is offensive, says Nathi Mthethwa
Cape Town - Cultural Affairs and Sport Minister Nathi Mthethwa described the recent decision of the Swiss Federal Court to uphold a decision regarding the International Association of Athletics Federations regulations on female athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) as offensive to the fundamental human rights of female athletes classified hyperandrogenic.
South African Olympic champion Caster Semenya had challenged a ruling last year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport that went against her in the competition regulations saga for female athletes from the 400m distance to 1 500m.
Governing body World Athletics issued regulations for female athletes with DSD that require such athletes with high testosterone levels to take medication to lower those levels if they want to participate in track events ranging from the 400m to 1 500m.
Semenya competes in all the main affected races – 400m, 800m and 1 500m – and the move by World Athletics was regarded by many as a plot to end the South African’s dominance in the 800m in particular.
Mthethwa said the decision was unfortunate.
“As the government of democratic South Africa, a country renowned for its tradition of promoting and protecting basic human rights, together with Athletics SA, we will study the judgment and consider various options and avenues at our disposal in our collective campaign to fight this injustice.
“We call upon all South Africans, Africans and the entire world to rally behind Caster in our quest to defeat injustice against women in sport, and in particular African women.”
In a tweet, Semenya said that despite the decision, she felt she had already won.
“Chill my people. A man can change the rules, but the very same man can not rule my life.
“What I am saying is that I might have failed against them. The truth is that I have won this battle long ago.
“Go back to my achievements, then you will understand. Doors might be closed, not locked,” she said.
The World Medical Association previously called on all doctors and medical scientists across the globe to take no part in the implementation of the regulations.
The resolution of the UN Human Rights Council also classified the regulations as a “contravention of international human rights norms and standards including the right to equality and non-discrimination, the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the right to physical and bodily integrity and the right to freedom from torture, and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment and harmful practices”.