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Caster Semenya files appeal with Swiss Federal Supreme Court

Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle

07:00 29 May 2019

Caster Semenya has filed an appeal to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland challenging the recent ruling against her by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in favour of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

"I am a woman and I am a world-class athlete," said the South African 800-metre runner on filing her appeal. "The IAAF will not drug me or stop me from being who I am."

Earlier this month, the CAS ruled that the Olympic gold medalist and other female runners like her with unusually high testosterone must take medication to reduce their levels of the male sex hormone if they want to compete in certain events.

Three judges spent more than two months in deliberation over the contentious issue. They agreed that the rules were discriminatory to DSD (disorders of sex development) athletes, but they found such discrimination was necessary.

In a 2-1 ruling, the CAS upheld proposed rules issued by track’s governing body, the IAAF, saying that they are discriminatory but that "such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means" of "preserving the integrity of female athletics."

Caster Semenya wants CAS decision set aside 'in its entirety'

The statement announcing the athlete's decision to appeal says; "[Semenya] will ask the Swiss Federal Supreme Court to set aside the decision of the CAS in its entirety.

"The CAS decision condones the IAAF's requirements for unnecessary and unwanted hormonal drug interventions on female athletes despite the lack of any medical protocols and the uncertain health consequences of such interventions.

"Ms Semenya's appeal focuses on fundamental human rights.

"In particular, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court will be asked to consider whether the IAAF's requirements for compulsory drug interventions violate essential and widely recognised public policy values, including the prohibition against discrimination, the right to physical integrity, the right to economic freedom and respect for human dignity."

Semenya's appeal will be led by Dr Dorothee Schramm of Sidley Austin LLP in Geneva and she adds;

"The IAAF regulations violate the most fundamental principles of Swiss public policy. In the race for justice, human rights must win over sporting interests."

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