Published: Fri, April 27, 2018
Research | By Clarence Powell

New IAAF Rule Change Poses Major Threat To Semenya's Career

New IAAF Rule Change Poses Major Threat To Semenya's Career

Under the new rules, which are expected to take effect in November 2018, female athletes with naturally higher testosterone levels will be required to take medication that would lower testosterone in their bodies.

These are regulations for a separate female classification to be known as an Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development (DSDs). "It does not want to risk discouraging those aspirations by having unfair competition conditions that deny athletes a fair opportunity to succeed".

"The ANC will stand with Caster Semenya in yet another attempt by global sport bodies to exclude and discriminate against her", the party said in a statement.

It has also seen backlash spread across social media, with users calling the regulation "sexist".

Under the rules an athlete must:* be recognised at law either as female or as intersex (or equivalent);* must reduce her blood testosterone level to below five (5) nmol/L for a continuous period of at least six months (e.g., by use of hormonal contraceptives);* thereafter she must maintain her blood testosterone level below five (5) nmol/L continuously.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe said on Thursday (Friday NZ Time) the governing body must "ensure a level playing field where success is determined by talent, dedication and hard work rather than other contributing factors".

The newly introduced regulations could significantly affect the well-known South African runner Caster Semenya, who claimed two Olympic titles in the women's 800m event at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Games.

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This would come as a big blow to South African athlete and world 800 metres champion, Caster Semanya.

The regulations follow a 2017 study, commissioned by the IAAF and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, which showed that women with elevated testosterone levels gained a competitive advantage from 1.78 percent to 4.53 percent in events such as the 400 meters, the 400-meter hurdles, the 800 meters, the hammer throw and the pole vault.

"The latest research we have undertaken, and data we have compiled, show that there is a performance advantage in female athletes with DSD over the track distances covered by this rule", said Dr Stephane Bermon from the IAAF medical and science department.

In the statement, ASA also conceded that the IAAF has the authority to determine such rules. The treatment to reduce testosterone levels is a hormone supplement similar to the contraceptive pill taken by millions of women around the world.

Those who want to compete are not required to undergo surgery.

The new IAAF rules could yet be challenged at CAS, including by Semenya or South African sports bodies.

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