In a landmark verdict, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled in favor of South African double Olympic 800m champion, Caster Semenya, in her appeal against testosterone regulations for female athletes.
The court found that Semenya, who has a medical condition known as hyperandrogenism, was discriminated against and there were “serious questions” about the validity of the rules. – Read more: Semenya wins 2000m easily; ASA Athletics Grand Prix 3 results
Semenya, 32, has been challenging the regulations introduced by World Athletics in 2019, which require female athletes with high natural testosterone levels to suppress it to compete in women’s competitions artificially.
The ECHR ruled by a 4-3 majority that Semenya’s original appeal against these regulations had not been properly heard and she was denied an “effective remedy” against the discrimination she faced.
The court’s decision casts doubt on the future of the testosterone rules, which have been a point of contention in the sports world. Despite the ruling, World Athletics stated that its rules would remain in place for now, indicating that there would not be an immediate return to top-level competition for Semenya.
World Athletics Responses To Caster Semenya Ruling
In a statement released to the media on Tuesday, World Athletics said: “World Athletics notes the judgment of the deeply divided Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
“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.
” In the meantime, the current DSD regulations, approved by the World Athletics Council in March 2023, will remain in place.”
The European Court of Human Rights criticized the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s 2019 decision, which upheld the testosterone rules, for not properly considering factors such as the side effects of hormone treatment and the lack of evidence that high natural testosterone gave athletes an unfair advantage.
The Swiss government, which was the respondent in the European Court of Human Rights case due to Semenya’s previous appeal rejection by the Swiss supreme court, has been ordered to pay Semenya 60,000 euros ($66,000) in respect of costs and expenses.
This ruling could potentially force World Athletics to re-examine the regulations, although the timeline and path to a possible rollback of the rules remain unclear.
Semenya, the gold medal winner in the women’s 800m at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympic Games, is also a three-time world champion in the distance. She is aiming to compete in next year’s Olympics in Paris.