Caster Semenya
Athletics South Africa (ASA) has been left fuming following reports that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) intends to submit to the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) that Caster Semenya be classified as “biological male”.

IAAF lawyers reportedly told UK media this week that they will insist in court that the Olympic women’s 800m champion be classed as a “biological male” who identifies as female.

Semenya is challenging the proposed rule amendment, which seeks to restrict the levels of testosterone in female athletes.

The five-day hearing at CAS, which begins on Monday in Lausanne, Switzerland, is seen as a landmark case surrounding athletes with “differences of sexual development”.

In an ASA statement released yesterday, the athletics organisation said it was “appalled” by the reports. “We condemn this,” the body said.

The ASA is throwing its weight behind Semenya. “We are totally committed to fight alongside Caster Semenya,” it said.

South Africa’s appeal was triggered by an announcement made by the IAAF in April 2018 to introduce new regulations relating to the eligibility of female athletes with hyperandrogenism (higher than normal levels of testosterone) to participate in international events.

The regulation wants to prohibit individuals from competition unless their testosterone levels are reduced to what the IAAF described as “acceptable levels” to “avoid them having an undue advantage over their rivals”.

The government will spend an estimated R25 million in the court battle against the IAAF to defend Semenya.

Minister of Sport Tokozile Xasa and her director-general Alec Moemi confirmed yesterday that the government was footing the bill for a powerful team of experts to appear.

Meanwhile, Semenya, 28, has come out fighting, saying that she is “unquestionably a woman”.

An outcome is expected on or before March 29.

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