JOHANNESBURG – Chances of Caster Semenya succeeding in her appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) verdict look bleak, according to a South African sports law expert.
Semenya has 30 days to approach the Swiss Federal Tribunal after the CAS ruled in favour of the IAAF on Wednesday, in her challenge against the controversial female eligibility rules.
Law professor Steve Cornelius said although Semenya could appeal the decision, she faced an uphill battle.
“There is the possibility of launching an appeal, which has to be entered over the next 30 days,” Cornelius said.
“But Swiss law grant limited appeals, so it isn’t guaranteed like we are used to where you can appeal, and the next court will consider the case.”
Cornelius was involved with Athletics SA’s (ASA) team in their challenge during the same court proceedings.
“We are all very disappointed, we hoped for a better outcome. But it is what it is, and we will have to weigh up the options,” Cornelius said.
Cornelius resigned from the IAAF disciplinary tribunal four months after he was appointed, writing a scathing letter to the athletics body’s president Sebastien Coe.
He has been among the leading dissenting voices against the rules, and hoped the CAS would give direction on how sporting bodies could deal with the complex issue.
“I thought this would be the ideal opportunity for the arbitration court to provide us with clarity on the matter finally,” Cornelius said.
“But now we don’t have any as they believe the regulations are valid, but it can change. It is unsatisfactory in a way because a verdict should give one a sense of finality. And I don’t think it does at this stage.”
The IAAF and the CAS referred to the regulations as a “living document”, which gave the global athletics body carte blanche to make changes
“Indeed, it may be that, on implementation and with experience, certain factors may be shown to affect the overall proportionality of the DSD regulations,” the CAS said.
“Either by indicating that amendments are required to ensure that the regulations are capable of being applied proportionately, or by providing further support for or against the inclusion of particular events within the category of restricted events.”
Cornelius said he would have to study the full judgement, but felt the CAS panel seemed to shy away from setting a precedent with the verdict.
“It would have been great if on the one side they confirmed that fundamental human rights are important in sport, and needs to be guarded, which would have made it a landmark decision,” Cornelius said.
“It would have been fine if they decided the regulations should be upheld because it is justified. But this thing of it being a ‘living document’ makes it look like they are shying away.”
In the CAS executive summary, the panel paid tribute to Semenya for her “grace and fortitude”.@ockertde