Fresh hurdle for Semenya with IAAF set to change eligibility rules
JOHANNESBURG - A fresh bid to sabotage the career of South Africa’s much-loved golden girl Caster Semenya threatens to put the IAAF on a collision course with South Africa.
An impending storm could soon erupt around the participation of the world record holder in IAAF events as the international athletics governing body plans to introduce new regulations governing the eligibility of women with hyperandrogenism.
The IAAF council last month approved a proposal to limit naturally produced testosterone for women who participate in distances that range from 400metres up to and including 1600m.
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“Following further drafting, the regulations will be communicated to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) before being released,” the IAAF said at the time.
“It is anticipated that the regulations will go into effect on November 1.”
The Irish Times revealed on Wednesday that the IAAF would reveal the new regulations this week.
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“This is one of the toughest subjects my council and I are discussing,” IAAF president Sebastian Coe said at the time.
“This is not about cheating. No hyperandrogenic athlete has cheated.
“This is about our responsibility as a sports federation to ensure a level playing field. It is for us to decide the rules, to draw the lines for competition.
“We choose to have two classifications for our competition, men’s events and women’s events.”
In July 2015, CAS asked the IAAF to provide further evidence of the advantage that hyperandrogenic female athletes had over athletes with “normal” testosterone levels.
The IAAF first introduced new rules and regulations in 2011 which allowed females with hyperandrogenism to compete in the “women’s competition in athletics provided that she has androgen levels below the male range”.
The new regulations target Semenya, whether directly or indirectly, with the South African regularly participating over all three distances.
She has been a dominant force in her specialist 800m race since CAS suspended the IAAF regulations, and she has recently been making serious inroads in the 1500m event too.
Semenya has been the dominant force in the two-lap event, going unbeaten in 22 finals, including the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and last year’s World Championships in London.
Arguably South Africa’s greatest female track athlete of all time, Semenya became only the third woman to win the 800/1500m double gold at this year’s Commonwealth Games.
The Irish Times revealed that the new regulations would be adopted for a separate female classification, which would be known as Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD).
These women would be allowed to compete in national competitions from the 400m up to 1600m in male or “intersex” classified races without the limitations of the new regulations.
In justifying the new regulations, the IAAF suggested there were a “significant over-representation of DSD athletes in certain events”, with their success in those events corroborating their evidence.
The Irish Times listed the IAAF’s new rules, including how it would enforce them, while the governing body would give athletes until November 1 to comply.
“This evidence shows clearly that (at least in certain events) DSD athletes in the normal male range have a significant advantage over female athletes with testosterone levels in the normal female range, which justifies requiring DSD athletes to reduce their testosterone levels down to the normal female range to compete in the female classification,” the IAAF said.