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Caster Semenya: UN warns IAAF against harmful procedures

CHALLENGE: Caster Semenya is fighting the IAAF's plans to regulate female athletes' naturally hight testosterone levels

THE UNITED Nations Human Rights Council has said proposals to classify athletes as female according to their testosterone levels “contravenes international human rights”.

South Africa’s Caster Semenya is challenging the International Association of Athletics Federations over its plans to prevent female runners from competing in women’s sports unless they lower their testosterone levels.

The UN Human Rights Council expressed concern over the IAAF’s plans.

In a statement, it said: “Discriminatory regulations, rules and practices that may require women and girl athletes with differences of sex development, androgen sensitivity and levels of testosterone to medically reduce their blood testosterone levels contravene international human rights norms and standards.”

It also called upon states to “ensure that sporting associations and bodies implement
policies and practices in accordance with international human rights norms and standards,
and to refrain from developing and enforcing policies and practices that force, coerce or
otherwise pressure women and girl athletes into undergoing unnecessary, humiliating and
harmful medical procedures in order to participate in women’s events in competitive sports”.

If the IAAF rules come into force, the female athletes with naturally high levels of testosterone will only be allowed to compete if they race against male athletes or take medication to reduce the amount of hormone in their system.

Women competing in track events of distances between 400m and one mile will be subject to the new regulations. Those wanting to compete in female races will have to reduce their testosterone levels to the specified amount for at least six months before competitions.

South Africa continues to back two-time Olympic 800m champion Semenya her fight against IAAF’s proposals. Among her high profile supporters include Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, and South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.

Semenya launched a legal challenge against the IAAF’s regulations, which were due to come into force on November 1 2018.

The Court of Arbitration of Sport will deliver its ruling on the rules next month.

Addressing the IAAF’s plans last year, Semenya said: “I just want to run naturally, the way I was born. It is not fair that I am told I must change. It is not fair that people question who I am. I am Mokgadi Caster Semenya. I am a woman and I am fast.”

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