Caster Semenya's Lawyers Say a Testosterone Limit for Women Runners Is 'Flawed' and 'Hurtful'


The question of what to do about South African runner Caster Semenya—to which the answer is, obviously, nothing, just let her compete—has long plagued the sporting world’s governing body, and they still can’t get it right. On Monday, Semenya’s lawyers launched an appeal against the International Association of Athletics Federation’s proposed limit on the amount of testosterone that can occur in women runners, calling it “flawed” and “hurtful.”

The proposed limit would mean athletes like Semenya would have to take hormone suppressants (per the Guardian):

Armed with this apparent proof, the IAAF introduced a revised testosterone limit of 5nmol/L but only for those events, which means athletes such as Semenya must use hormone suppressants to get their testosterone below the bar for at least six months before competing.

Last Thursday, the IAAF denied reports that the governing body wished women athletes with high testosterone levels should compete in male categories (per BBC):

The Times reported that IAAF lawyers will say Semenya is a “biological male” as well as classified as female.
The IAAF said it is “not classifying” any athlete with “differences of sexual development” (DSD) – of whom South African Semenya, 28, is the most notable – as male.
“To the contrary, we accept their legal sex without question, and permit them to compete in the female category,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.

Semenya’s lawyers argue that a testosterone limit is just another way to police women’s bodies, and even accuses the IAAF of violating the rules at the court of arbitration for sport (where a landmark case on intersex athletes is being held) in order to influence public opinion.

Semenya has previously said that she just wants “to run naturally, the way I was born.” As the IAAF considers all sorts of possibilities in order to account for genetic makeup (such as creating high- and low-testosterone categories), it seems like Semenya’s wish could take longer than expected.

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