SASCOC aren't happy with verdict from the IAAF. Photo: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) slammed the verdict of the Court of Arbitration in its ruling against Caster Semenya. 

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Wednesday ruled against South Africa’s Caster Semenya’s challenge against new IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) rules about the levels of testosterone in the body.

“The CAS has dismissed both requests for arbitration,” CAS said in a statement.

Semenya, will now be forced to take the testosterone-lowering medication for six months before competing.

Semenya, who went through this same controversy years ago and won her case, had a team of experts challenging the IAAF ruling.

The world athletics body was trying to force what they term  “hyperandrogenic” athletes or those with “differences of sexual development” (DSD) to seek treatment to lower their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount if they wish to continue competing as women.

The Sascoc statement read:

“It is now a matter of record that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) “found that the rules for athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) were discriminatory, but on the basis of the evidence submitted by the parties, such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s aim of protecting the integrity of female athletics in the Restricted events”.

We disagree with CAS in the extreme. It is clear from the ruling itself that the application of these rules (in particular for the 1500m and mile events) remains a source of concern, whilst the athletes’ ability to maintain strict compliance with the maximum permitted testosterone levels could well be at issue too. We maintain that the rules are ill thought and will be a source of distress for the targeted female athletes.

"This decision marks a massive turning point as it now redefines what a female athlete in particular is. The question we all have on our minds as athletes is around how these regulations will be applied with equality, parity and fairness in sport. We do believe that this decision will impede the talent of athletes here in South Africa and knowing Caster and the hard work she has put into her sport, we support all her endeavours and we are all behind her,” said Natalie du Toit, chairperson of SASCOC’s Athletes’ Commission.

"The CAS findings are disheartening for those of us who come from a country where human rights are a foundation of our society and have fought hard and for many years for their attainment. It surely cannot escape our minds that the United Nations also criticised the IAAF regulations as “unnecessary, humiliating and harmful", said Gideon Sam, president of Sascoc.

“Caster’s rights have been trampled on for a long time and it was our hope that this case would bring the matter to an end. It is unfortunate that her and many other women around the world will continue to be subjected to such adjudications and violations, and be deprived of the opportunity to prosper and take the centre stage in sport.

“We continue to celebrate and support Caster Semenya as a champion, the great carrier of the Team South Africa flag, a symbol of national pride and we applaud her for her excellence,” continued Sam.

African News Agency (ANA)