Testosterone trouble looms again for SA’s Semenya

Testosterone trouble looms again for SA’s Semenya

July 4 2017  – The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is set to challenge the 2015 ruling by the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) later this month, which allows SA’s 800m Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya and other athletes with naturally high levels of testosterone to compete. 

This means Semenya  could once again face a ban from competition following a new study into athletes with raised testosterone levels which has just been published.

She  could be forced into hormone therapy which would lower her testosterone.

However  the possible ban, however, would not affect Semenya’s eligibility to compete in the World Championship in London next month where she is the heavy favourite to claim gold in the women’s 800m. 

The IAAF, commissioned the study which according to reports has provided the most comprehensive evidence yet that female athletes with exceptional levels of testosterone receive enormous performance-enhancing benefits.

“While the IAAF will continue to gather evidence and prepare its case, it should be noted that this process will have no impact on the IAAF World Championships in London this August. The hyperandrogenism regulations remain suspended pending the resolution of the CAS proceedings,” the governing body said in a statement.

For strongly patriotic South Africans and supporters of Semenya, the issue is simple and she should be a allowed to run because she is a woman. The issue of Semenya competing, however, is far more complex than the distinction between the sexes.

One of the biggest arguments in favour of Semenya, is that she is doing nothing wrong by competing. The 26-year-old is cleared to compete, and is in the best form of her life. The problem, however, is that testosterone is the single biggest determining factor in athletic performance and the naturally high-levels occurring in Semenya’s body give her a massive advantage over her competitors.

In 2009, Semenya was subjected to very public, very cruel, gender testing following her breakthrough win at the World Championships and she only returned to competition over a year later as a result.

The reason for the controversy lurking menacingly behind the curtain again is the ruling made by the Court of Arbitration (CAS) in July 2015.  CAS suspended “hyperandrogenism regulation” by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) because of a ruling involving Indian sprinter Dutee Chand. Athletes like Semenya and Chand, and others but none as high-profile as the South African, were rumoured to have been taking testosterone-lowering medication allowing them to compete up to that point.

This latest study, means Semenya and other athletes with the same condition could once again be forced to take testosterone-lowering medication which severely affect their performances. If they don’t comply, then they could be banned. – ANA