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Zwelivelile Mandela speaks out in support of Caster Semenya

CHAMPION: High profile South Africans are speaking out in support of Caster Semenya

NKOSI ZWELIVELILE Mandela has spoken out in support of Caster Semenya following the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) decision to introduce a new policy for female athletes with naturally high testosterone.

The proposed regulations would require female athletes with naturally high testosterone levels to take medication to lower the level of the hormone in their bodies. Those who choose not to medicate will only be allowed to participate in events if they compete against male athletes.

Semenya, a two-time Olympic 800m champion is appealing against the policy, which the IAAF plans to implement from March 26.

The 28-year-old is challenging the regulation at the Court of Arbitration for Sport this week.

If the IAAF policy is implemented, affected athletes will be required to reduce their testosterone levels for around six months before competing.

The grandson of the former South African leader said: "We must fight discrimination in whatever shape or form it comes,” South African publication Times Live reported.

“We oppose the proposed imposition of testosterone levels as undue interference and tantamount to controlling Caster's body without consideration of her wishes or the long-term effects of such treatment."

"We continue to support the efforts of Athletics SA in its quest to protect the rights of our world champion and resist any attempts at discriminating against her.

"We call on all South Africans, local and international sports enthusiasts, and all who supported our decades-long struggle against apartheid discrimination, to stop this new assault on Caster Semenya's dignity, human rights and the right of all to compete free of any discrimination,” he also in the statement released on Monday.

Mandela is one of a number of high profile South Africans who have come out in support of Semenya.

Others include the country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa, who described Semenya as a “beacon of hope”.

“Mokgadi. Champion. Beacon of hope. My daughter. This is only to remind you of your greatness; because you constantly remind us that nothing beats the enduring power of the human spirit. You may run alone on the track, but know now that you run with 57 million and more,” Ramaphosa wrote on Twitter.

South Africa Rugby have also pledged their support for the athlete.

Semenya’s supporters are taking part in a social media campaign using the hashtags #HandsOffCaster and #NaturallySuperior.

The IAAF has said it is acting to “empower girls and women” and ensure that the female category in sport is “a protected category”.

However, supporters of the South African athlete have deemed the organisation’s actions racist and called Semenya’s fight one for all black women.

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