Sport and Recreation Minister Toko Xasa and director general Alec Moremi at a press briefing regarding Caster Semenya's case against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Photo: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA

PRETORIA - The South African government is geared to put up a brave fight next week at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) where local “heroine” Caster Semenya will contest the IAAF’s impending new rules on hyperandrogenism, called "Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athletes with Differences of Sex Development)".

“Through our Department of Sport and Recreation we have established a high-level panel consisting of the medical and legal workstreams respectively. This panel consists of experts in both medical and legal fraternities who constitute the respective workstreams. There is a third workstream constituted by the departmental personnel and its mandate is to raise public awareness and mobilise public support on the discriminatory nature of these regulations,” Sport and Recreation Minister Tokozile Xasa said at a media briefing in Pretoria.

“Work in all the workstreams has commenced and the high-level panel has prepared a formidable case based on legal and medical data collected. The legal team will appear before the CAS to present the case in support of the case lodged by both Athletics SA and Caster Mokgadi Semenya.”

The Court of Arbitration for Sport will hear Semenya’s case either in Lausanne or Geneva, Switzerland.

Xasa said the South African government has “a direct interest in the proceedings and outcome” of this case. 

“This interest is informed by our historical stance as a nation towards human rights and also if the proposed regulations go unchallenged will have a negative impact to our Golden Girl, Caster Semenya. What’s at stake here is far more than the right to participate in a sport. Women’s bodies, their wellbeing, their ability to earn a livelihood, their very identity, their privacy and sense of safety and belonging in the world, are being questioned,” she said. 

“This is a gross violation of internationally accepted standards of human rights law.” 

The IAAF introduced rules and regulations governing eligibility for females with hyperandrogenism to compete in women's competitions for the first time in 2011. 

The purpose of these regulations was to determine eligibility classification of female athletes with the hyperandrogenism to participate in the female athletics categories and the conditions under which they would be allowed to compete. 

Xasa said the controversial new regulations are only applicable to 400m up to the mile, including 400m, hurdle races, 800m and 1500m, the categories wherein Caster Semenya participates and generally dominates. 

Sport and Recreation Minister Toko Xasa at a press briefing regarding Caster Semenya's case against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Photo: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA
Sport and Recreation Minister Toko Xasa at a press briefing regarding Caster Semenya's case against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Photo: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA

“The logic as to why regulations were restricted to these categories is still unclear, thus compelling us, as a country, to suspect they are targeted to our very own daughter of the soil, who is the reigning world champion in the 400m and 800m track,” said Xasa.”

“These regulations have drawn criticism from organizations and eminent individuals in various sectors including human rights, medical science, sport and sports law both here at home and abroad. The critics have elevated a point that the regulations are discriminatory and violates fundamental and international human rights, including a right to physical and bodily integrity, the right to freedom from torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and harmful practices.” 

The South African government appealed to communities across the world to join the #NaturallySuperior campaign.

African News Agency (ANA)

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