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Caster Semenya takes her fight to European Court of Human Rights

17 November 2020 - 14:33 By David Isaacson
Caster Semenya is pushing ahead with her battle against World Athletics.
Caster Semenya is pushing ahead with her battle against World Athletics.
Image: Charles Platiau/Reuters

Caster Semenya is pushing ahead with her battle against World Athletics‚ taking the world government body to the European Court of Human Rights.

Her SA lawyer‚ Greg Nott‚ made the announcement in a statement on Tuesday.

Semenya’s appeal against the Court of Arbitration for Sport decision in favour of World Athletics was recently dismissed in the Swiss federal court.

At issue were the federation’s new gender eligibility rules which require women with excessive amounts of naturally occurring testosterone to take suppressants or undergo surgery.

The rules apply mostly to the distances from 400m to the mile‚ which cover Semenya’s events‚ including the 800m where she has won two Olympic golds and three world championship titles.

Now her battleground shifts from Switzerland to Strasbourg in France‚ seat of the European human rights court.

“With growing support from institutions and bodies across the globe‚ we remain hopeful World Athletics will see the error it has made and reverse the prohibitive rules which restrict Ms Semenya from competing‚” Nott said‚ pointing out she had been backed by the SA parliament and human rights commissions across the continent.

“The increasing number of institutions that have shown their support for Ms Semenya reinforces that it is not acceptable to require a black or any other woman to either have invasive surgery or unethical hormonal treatment to curtail natural biological functions to compete.

“We remain inspired by Ms Semenya’s indomitable spirit and will remain steadfast in our stand against discrimination until she is allowed to run free from persecution.”

If Semenya were to be successful and be allowed to compete at the Tokyo Olympics next year‚ she — alongside swimmer Chad Le Clos — would attempt to become the first South Africans to win medals  at three Games.​