Caster Semenya vs IAAF: What you need to know

19 February 2019 - 10:12 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Caster Semenya is ready for battle.
Caster Semenya is ready for battle.
Image: Instagram/ Caster Semenya

The court hearing between world and Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya and the International Association of Athletics Federations is in full swing. Semenya is fighting a IAAF proposal that would compel her to take medication to lower her testosterone levels before she will be allowed to further compete as a female. 

Here's what you need to know:

What is it about?

Semenya's team seeks to challenge the athletics union which has proposed that athletes like Semenya who naturally produce high levels of testosterone, be given medication to lower their production of the hormone.

In a statement, IAAF said: "To preserve fair competition in the female category, it is necessary to require DSD (disorder of sexual differentiation) athletes to reduce their testosterone down to female levels before they compete at international levels."

The history

The battle between Semenya and the federation dates back to 2009, when Semenya was just 18 years old.

She had competed and won her first senior championship in Berlin.

Semenya had to undergo gender verification tests before she could be handed her medal.

Government support

Sports minister Tokozile Xasa announced on Friday that the government would fork out R25m to foot Semenya's legal bill.

A team of international and local legal minds was put together to lead Semenya's hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAA) in Zurich.

Semenya's legal team 

The experts behind Semenya include two Canadian lawyers, Jim Bunting and Carlos Sayao, South Africa's Greg Nott, Patrick Bracher and Sandra Sithole.

IAAF's experts

The experts representing the federation include transgender physicist Joanna Harper, who transitioned from male to female. She claims she became a slower runner when she started controlling her testosterone. A professor of reproductive endocrinology and andrology at the University of Sydney in Australia will also be used in by the IAAF in the case.


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