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South Africa To Intervene In Caster Semenya’s Case

DOHA, QATAR – MAY 03: Caster Semenya of South Africa races to the line to win the Women’s 800 meters during the IAAF Diamond League event at the Khalifa International Stadium on May 03, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)


The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has announced that it will be a third party in the appeal between 800m runner Caster Semenya and the Swiss Federal Supreme Court which will be heard at the European Court of Human Rights.

Semenya is seeking to overturn a ruling by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court which upheld a Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling to maintain World Athletics’ change in competition eligibility rules for females in certain races.


The regulations, known as the Difference of Sex Development (DSD) rules, bar women athletes who have what the athletics body calls “high levels of endogenous testosterone” from competing on the international stage in certain races, (including Semenya’s 800m competition) unless they reduce and maintain low blood testosterone levels.

Semenya has refused to do this and was effectively barred from defending her 2016 Rio Olympic title in Tokyo and her 2018 world championship after the rules came into effect in 2018.

The SAHRC said it had applied to be part of the proceedings because the regulations have an impact specifically on Southern African athletes.

“The Commission sought leave to intervene in the matter so as to elucidate the adverse impacts of World Athletics’…regulations on women from the Global South.” The commission said.

“In particular, the Commission wishes to make submissions to the court which demonstrate the discriminatory effect of the regulations on the intersecting grounds of race and gender, and which further show how the impugned regulations breach Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and/or Article 3 (prohibition of torture) of the European court.”

The regulations apply to the women’s 400m, 400m hurdles, 800m races and 1500m.

The commission said it will make written submissions to the European court by October 12.


Written by PH

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