South Africa is stepping up to help appeal the ruling made by the Court of Arbitration for Sport which could end Caster Semenya’s career.
South Africa – Double Olympic champion Caster Semenya took the unfavourable International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) decision in her stride. She has thankfully been supported through it all by the South African public and the government.
In April 2018, the IAAF announced new rules that required hyperandrogenous athletes to take medication to lower their testosterone levels, effective beginning in November 2018. Due to the narrow scope of the changes, which apply to only those athletes competing in the 400m, 800m, and 1500m, many people thought the rule change was designed specifically to target Semenya.
On 19 June 2018, Semenya announced that she would legally challenge the “unfair” IAAF rules, and her legal hearing began on 18 February 2019. On 1 May 2019, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejected her challenge, paving the way for the new rules to come into effect on 8 May 2019
This decision could end her career if she wishes not to comply with the required hormonal treatments that would reduce her testosterone levels and make her eligible to compete in her favoured categories, being the 400m and 800m.
The South Africa Minister of Sports, Tokozile Xasa has come out in support of Caster Semenya too. The minister had instructed Athletics South Africa to appeal against the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling that would force Caster to undergo hormone treatment.
The statement released by the Department of Sports and Recreation includes three factors that will influence the appeal.
Athletics South Africa (ASA) will appeal the judgement of the CAS and lodge its papers within the prescribed and stipulated period. The grounds for ASA’s appeal are summarized as follows:
- ASA applied for recusal of two of the arbitrators who it felt they were conflicted since they have handled the earlier case of the Indian sprinter, Dutee Chand as Caster was also going to be an affected athlete.
- The strength of scientific, medical and legal case we presented, we believe, the outcome is inconceivable on the fact. The facts before court and the outcome do not match.
- The pertinent legal questions that the court should have addressed we not addressed. The court simply gave the unfettered latitude to the IAAF to do as it pleases. For instance, it has not been answered as to how the IAAF will implement the regulations and how ethical issues will be addressed.
The statement ends off saying that through collaboration with other organs of State, South Africa will work to approach the UN for further assistance in combatting the ruling which infringes on Caster’s human rights.
“The Minister has also directed that the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa should work with other organs of State to intensify the international lobby and to approach the United Nations General Assembly to sanction the IAAF for violating International Human Rights Instruments. The Government will also have to mobilise and educate society on the key arguments and tenets of the case. To this end, government will make available information to the public and also develop online information instruments to empower the public on this key matter.
The Minister was also pleased with the commitment by ASA to lobby other National Athletics Associations in other jurisdictions to sign a petition, petitioning the IAAF to rescind the regulations and to lobby against the current executive of the IAAF.
Minister Xasa has also expressed her gratitude to the people of South Africa and the World at large for their continued support for Caster Semenya in the face of this unwarranted affront. She once more, thanked various sectors including human rights bodies, media, medical science fraternity, sport bodies & sport personalities, the international bodies and the sports law experts, for their insights and unwavering support.”
It makes our hearts so warm to see that the fight isn’t over and to see the South African government standing strong behind our Golden Girl!