Court ruling against Semenya triggers global outcry


South African athlete, Caster Semenya

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland’s ruling against Caster Semenya’s appeal for equal treatment of athletes has sparked global condemnation.

The ruling is a further blow for the South African athlete in her bid to return to the track and defend her titles in the races ranging from 400 metres and 1 mile.

These include Semenya’s favored event was the 800 metre race, in which she won the gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) blasted the Swiss court’s ruling as upholding regulations biased against all women athletes.

“The court came to this conclusion despite finding that the regulations in question – which create a regime of discriminatory surveillance and medical interventions on women – violate fundamental human rights of the South African runner Caster Semenya,” Minky Worden, HRW Director of Global Initiatives, said.

The Swiss court was reviewing an appeal by Semenya, who has been targeted for a decade by variations of the regulations, and ruled ineligible to compete.

In 2019, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, upheld the most recent version of the regulations, which targets a subset of women with variations of their sex characteristics and naturally occurring elevated testosterone levels.

The regulations compel women to undergo medical interventions or be forced out of competition.

Identifying which athletes are impacted by the regulations will be done through subjecting all women athletes’ bodies to public scrutiny and requiring those that seem “suspect” to undergo a medical examination.

Worden reiterated that there was no clear scientific consensus that women with naturally occurring higher-than-typical testosterone had a performance advantage in athletics.

“For these women athletes, being compelled to undergo a medical examination can be humiliating and medically unnecessary, as well as disrespectful of their rights,” she said.

In reaction to the court ruling, Semenya vowed to fight on.

“I will continue to fight for the human rights of female athletes, both on the track and off the track, until we can all run free the way we were born,” Semenya stated.

– CAJ News

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