Former Olympic champion Caster Semenya has won her appeal at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after it found she was discriminated against by rules which forced her to lower her testosterone levels in order to continue competing.
Semenya was born with differences of sexual development (DSD) which means that she has higher than normal testosterone levels for a woman. In 2018 World Athletics introduced new regulations which required Semenya to take testosterone reducing medication if she wished to compete in events between 400m and one mile.
Semenya’s appeal was not against the World Athletics regulations but rather against the Swiss Supreme Court decision three years ago with the ECHR ruling the Swiss government did not protect Semenya from being discriminated against when its Supreme Court refused to overturn a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport which upheld World Athletics rules governing the participation of athletes with DSD.
In a statement World Athletics said “We remain of the view that the DSD regulations are a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of protecting fair competition in the female category as the Court of Arbitration for Sport and Swiss Federal Tribunal both found, after a detailed and expert assessment of the evidence. The case was filed against the state of Switzerland, rather than World Athletics. We will liaise with the Swiss government on the next steps and, given the strong dissenting views in the decision, we will be encouraging them to seek referral of the case to the ECHR Grand Chamber for a final and definitive decision. In the meantime, the current DSD regulations, approved by World Athletics Council in March 2023, will remain in place.”
An ECHR statement said “The court found in particular that the applicant had not been afforded sufficient institutional and procedural safeguards in Switzerland to allow her to have her complaints examined effectively, especially since her complaints concerned substantiated and credible claims of discrimination as a result of her increased testosterone level caused by differences of sex development.”
Image credit: Yann Caradec