Caster Semenya Forced to Lower Testosterone Levels to Defend Olympic Title

27 April, 2018, 00:59 | Author: Lucy Floyd
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The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has published rules for female athletes with high natural testosterone levels, which might force two-time Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya to stop running middle-distance races.

Media in the United Kingdom and South Africa on Wednesday published sections of the report ahead of its official release, revealing that the new hyperandrogenism regulations would include a separate female classification to be known as an Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD). "It does not want to risk discouraging those aspirations by having unfair competition conditions that deny athletes a fair opportunity to succeed".

Asked by a journalist whether she would comply with the regulations set to be announced on Thursday, Semenya said she's more concerned with keeping in shape in order to compete.

"As a federation, we will study the new regulations and compare them with the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) recommendations to see if they are compatible and in line".

Women with elevated testosterone will be expected to reduce their hormone level for "six months (for example by use of hormonal contraceptives)" before being eligible to run, and they will have to maintain that lowered level.

The IAAF made Semenya take a sexual verification test, which was initially kept secret but revealed by the media in 2009. Clearly it would impact on her performance.

"The revised rules are not about cheating - they are about levelling the playing field to ensure fair and meaningful competition", IAAF president Lord Coe said.

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Earlier this month‚ Semenya secured a golden double at the Commonwealth Games, winning the 800m and the 1 500m titles in Games record times and also breaking Zola Budd's 34-year-old national mark in the 1 500m.

If they do not, they will be faced with hard choices - hormone therapy; restricting their performances to national meets; competing against men; entering events for so-called intersex athletes, if any are offered; moving to longer or shorter distances; or essentially giving up their chance to participate in the sport's most prestigious competitions.

The new regulations will come into effect on 1 November.

'The latest research we have undertaken, and data we have compiled, show that there is a performance advantage in female athletes with DSD over the track distances covered by this rule, ' said Dr Stephane Bermon from the IAAF Medical and Science Department.

Female-identifying athletes with "Difference of Sexual Development (DSD)"-as coined by the IAAF-are also allowed to switch events without changing their body chemistry, say, for instance, to the steeplechase or the 5K".

"Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, it has", she said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

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