Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya loses bid to compete without taking drugs
Caster Semenya has failed in her latest bid to be allowed to run the 800m without having to take medication to reduce naturally high levels of testosterone.
Her lawyers said in a statement on Tuesday that the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland had refused to set aside the 2019 ruling by the Court of Arbitration allowing the female eligibility rules for all events from the 400m to the mile imposed by the sport’s world governing body‚ World Athletics.
The ruling means Semenya‚ the Olympic 800m champion in 2012 and 2016‚ won’t be able to defend her title at the Tokyo Games next year without taking medication. Earlier this year she competed in the 200m‚ where female athletes face no restrictions.
“The Swiss Supreme Court found that World Athletics’ requirement of subjecting certain female athletes to drug or surgical intervention as a precondition to compete in women’s 400m to 1‚500m events does not amount to a violation of Swiss public policy‚” her lawyers said in the statement.
“The Supreme Court stressed the strict limitations of reviewing a violation of Swiss public policy‚ which has only been accepted once in over 30 years.
“Importantly‚ the Swiss Supreme Court was bound by the controversial factual findings of the majority of the CAS panel (without regard to the findings of the dissenting arbitrator).
“Based on those controversial facts‚ the Swiss Supreme Court denied a violation of Swiss public policy. The Swiss Court dismissed the appeal despite finding that the World Athletics regulations seriously violate Caster’s physical integrity because the required hormonal drug intervention is not medically indicated‚ has negative health effects and is not based on the athlete’s free consent‚” Semenya’s lawyers said.
The world 800m champion from 2009‚ 2011 and 2017‚ who had also competed in the 400m and 1‚500m‚ vowed to fight on.
“I am very disappointed by this ruling‚ but refuse to let World Athletics drug me or stop me from being who I am‚” she said in the statement.
“Excluding female athletes or endangering our health solely because of our natural abilities puts World Athletics on the wrong side of history.
“I will continue to fight for the human rights of female athletes‚ both on the track and off the track until we can all run free the way we were born. I know what is right and will do all I can to protect basic human rights‚ for young girls everywhere.”
The statement said Semenya was considering her options‚ noting that the World Medical Association had called on doctors around the world to take no part in implementing the World Athletics regulations.
Her SA-based lawyer‚ Greg Nott‚ said this wasn’t the end of her fight‚ suggesting she could move her battle to Japan‚ the scene of the delayed 2020 Olympics.
“This setback will not be the end of Caster’s story‚” Nott said in the same statement. “She has an amazing team of advisors and lawyers behind her from countries around the world‚ including South Africa‚ Canada‚ Switzerland‚ the United Kingdom‚ India‚ the United States and the European Union.
“The international team is considering the judgment and the options to challenge the findings in European and domestic courts.”