Caster Semenya will be one of the athletes affedcted by the IAAF's in-coming gender eligibility rules. Photo: EPA/MARTIN DIVISEK

JOHANNESBURG - A two-day conference will be dedicated to the IAAF's new female eligibility rules at the University of Pretoria today and tomorrow. Organisers hope the summit - which includes both national and international experts - will put further pressure on the IAAF to withdraw its controversial regulations.

The new policy is set to go into effect on November 1 pending a challenge from South African track superstar Caster Semenya at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The IAAF introduced a new policy in April attempting to regulate women who naturally produce testosterone levels above five nanomoles per litre of blood. For now, the regulations are limited to athletes who compete in events ranging from the 400m to the mile.

It is for this reason that the Department of Sports and Recreation South Africa and the Centre for Sports Law in Africa have decided to host a conference on the eligibility to participate in women’s sport at the UP-Tuks Sports Centre.

Some leading sports law experts from various corners of the globe will give their views on the matter. Among the speakers will be Australian Madeleine Pape, a former Semenya rival turned champion for the cause of the South African and other female athletes who are being targeted by these regulations.

The Australian will be giving “a sociological perspective on the persistence of gender eligibility regulations in athletics” on the second day of the conference. Two of the panellists will be speaking about the legality of the regulations in countries such as Canada and South Korea.

Shani Bartlett, who is one of the organisers of the event, did her LLB research project on both the old and the new IAAF projects. She will be presenting pieces of her research at the conference dealing specifically with the history of gender verification.

“There are two reasons for the conference. Firstly, we would like to keep the conversation going about the regulations and provide the defence with access to some of the experts that will be speaking,” Bartlett said. “The conference is open for anybody interested in the subject and is free of charge.”

The regulations have been met with opposition from around the world including British and Canadian athletics officials. Three United Nations human rights experts recently addressed a letter to the IAAF in which it called on the international athletics body to provide clarification on various human rights issues raised by the regulations.

The Star

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