South Africa: Caster Semenya Barred From 800 Meters at World Championships

Caster Semenya of South Africa, a two-time Olympic champion at 800 meters, will not be eligible to run her signature event at this year’s world track and field championships after the latest legal ruling in an ongoing, highly-charged case about testosterone levels and restrictions placed on intersex athletes to compete in certain women’s events.

Semenya sustained a setback on Tuesday, when the Swiss Supreme Court reversed a decision it made in June and, temporarily at least, reimposed the hormone restrictions set forth by track and field’s world governing body in women’s events from 400 meters to the mile.

“I am very disappointed to be kept from defending my hard-earned title,” Semenya said in a statement about her ineligibility to run the 800 at world track championships, to be held from Sept. 28-Oct. 6 in Doha, Qatar. But, she added, “this will not deter me from continuing my fight for the human rights of all of the female athletes concerned.”

Despite Tuesday’s interim ruling, Semenya’s attorney said she planned to continue an appeal. She is seeking to overturn eligibility limitations placed on athletes in the affected women’s events who have disorders of sexual development and possess X and Y chromosomes, the normal male pattern. These women produce testosterone in what scientists refer to as the “male range.”

Dorothee Schramm, the lawyer, told reporters, “We will continue to pursue Caster’s appeal and fight for her fundamental human rights. A race is always decided at the finish line.”

Track and field’s governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, or I.A.A.F., said it would wait to respond until the Swiss Supreme Court issues a fuller explanation of its decision, which is expected Wednesday. Read more via New York Times