Olympic gold medalist fights against rules requiring her use of testosterone lowering drugs

Caster Semenya, one of the fastest women in the world, is continuing to face challenges from the foremost authority in on track and field on her biology

South Africa's Caster Semenya competes in a women's 800-meter heat during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

A South African athlete is fighting against a court ruling that would require her to take drugs to lower her testosterone levels to level the playing field with other female athletes, Agence France Presse reports.

On Monday, Olympic 800 meter gold medalist Caster Semenya challenged the proposed rules in the Court of Arbitration for Sport saying it’s a “gross violation” of her human rights.

Hearings are set to be held this week that centers on The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rules that could force so-called “hyperandrogenic” athletes or those with “differences of sexual development” (DSD) to adhere to lowering testosterone levels by taking a prescribed drug if they want to compete.

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The 28-year-old runner is fighting the proposal and claims that she is being unfairly targeted by the South African government.

“Today is a very, very important day said IAAF President Sebastian Coe said. “The regulations that we are introducing are there to protect the sanctity of fair and open competition.”

Athletics South Africa is standing behind Semenya. The group’s chief advocate and Semenya’s lawyer, Norman Arendse says she will present evidence during the meetings.

“The whole week is going to be important. Obviously the evidence will be evaluated and assessed at the end of the process this week. so today this is the start,” Arendse said to reporters.

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According to a British newspaper The Times, the IAAF plans to make claim that Semanya should be classified as a biological male. But the IAAF has denied making the allegation.

Semanya who won Olympic gold in the women’s 800 meter races at the 2012 games in London and at the women’s final at the IAAF World Championships in 2017 argues that she is  “unquestionably a woman.”

The IAAF clarified its position in a statement saying: “If a DSD athlete has testes and male levels of testosterone, they get the same increases in bone and muscle size and strength and increases in hemoglobin that a male gets when they go through puberty, which is what gives men such a performance advantage over women.

“Therefore, to preserve fair competition in the female category, it is necessary to require DSD athletes to reduce their testosterone down to female levels before they compete at international level.”

“It is unusual and unprecedented because we never had a such a case at CAS,” said Matthieu Reeb, the secretary general of the court.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova On Sunday, offered support for Semanya.

“Leaving out sprints and longer distances seems to me to be a clear case of discrimination by targeting Semenya,” Navratilova wrote in Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper.

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“And can it be right to order athletes to take medication? What if the long-term effects proved harmful?… I hope she wins.”

South Africa’s Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa called the IAAF’s rules “discriminatory”.

“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,” Xasa said on Friday.

Last November the rules were announced. A judge is expected to rule in March.