Swiss Supreme Court upholds ruling in favour of Caster Semenya 

Swiss Supreme Court denies IAAF's request to immediately re-impose regulations on double Olympic 800m champion  

By Rory Jiwani

The Swiss Supreme Court has upheld its ruling in favour of Caster Semenya. The Court has denied the urgent request of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) to be allowed to immediately re-impose its eligibility regulations on the double Olympic 800m champion.

The Court had ordered the IAAF on 31 May to "immediately suspend" the implementation of hyperandrogenism regulations after Semenya appealed her defeat at the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) last month.

The South African can now continue to run at her preferred distance without having to suppress her natural testosterone level, pending her appeal.

"I am thankful for the Swiss judges for this decision. I hope that following my appeal, I will once again be able to run free." - Caster Semenya on 31 May

After the ruling at the end of May Semenya's Swiss solicitor, Dr Dorothee Schramm, said, "The Swiss Supreme Court has granted welcome temporary protection to Caster Semenya. This is an important case that will have fundamental implications for the human rights of female athletes."

CAS had dismissed Semenya's original appeal against new IAAF regulations for female athletes with a Difference of Sexual Development (DSD) at distances between 400m and one mile.

For Semenya to defend her 800m world title at Doha in October, she would have needed to start taking medication to reduce her testosterone levels to below 5nmol/L from 11 May.

But Semenya was adamant she would not do so with Athletics South Africa stating that she would appeal to the Swiss Supreme Court.

Caster Semenya in action at the Rio 2016 Olympics

IAAF response

On 31 May the IAAF released the following response to the Swiss Federal Tribunal order, regarding DSD regulations.

"The IAAF will continue to fight for equal rights and opportunities for all women and girls in our sport today and in the future.

"The IAAF is committed to the full participation of women in the sport of athletics, be that as elite female athletes in fair and meaningful competition, as young girls developing life and sport skills, or as administrators or officials. Regrettably, it was not so long ago that women were not permitted to compete in sport at all. There is a lot of work to be done, but we are at the forefront of that work, including being one of the only international sports federations to pay women and men equal prize money.

"The IAAF fully respects each individual's personal dignity and supports the social movement to have people accepted in society based on their chosen legal sex and/or gender identity.

"However, the IAAF is convinced there are some contexts, sport being one of them, where biology has to trump identity.

"The IAAF also believes the right to participate in sport does not translate to a right to self-identify into a competition category or an event, or to insist on inclusion in a preferred event, or to win in a particular event, without regard to the legitimate rules of the sport or the criteria for entry."

Semenya's next races

"This is fantastic news. Caster can now run the races she was told she cannot run," Semenya's lawyer Gregg Nott told a South African radio station.

Semenya is scheduled to run the 3,000m at the Prefontaine Classic in Stanford, California on 30 June as her next competition.

She has been provisionally selected by Athletics South Africa (ASA) for the World Athletics Championships in Doha starting in late September.

Semenya is among 30 athletes named for Qatar who have achieved the qualifying standards in their events, and competed in April's national championships.

Her name is in bold with an asterisk with the subtext reading, "her selection will depend on the outcome of the CAS appeal", next to her favourite distance, the 800m.