Court of Arbitration for Sport confirms landmark hearing has concluded, with decision expected next month

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has described this week’s case involving Caster Semenya, Athletics South Africa and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as “one of the most pivotal” to have ever been heard by the court.

Confirming that the landmark hearing had concluded as planned on Friday, the CAS added that the panel’s decision is expected to be announced on or before March 26.

The case concerns the IAAF’s proposed new rules on female classification, the introduction of which South Africa’s two-time Olympic and three-time world 800m champion Semenya is seeking to overturn.

In April it was announced by athletics’ global governing body that female athletes with naturally high testosterone levels would have to race against men or switch events unless they take medication to lower those levels under proposed new eligibility regulations for female classification.

The rules for athletes who have ‘differences of sexual development’ would apply to the 400m, 400m hurdles, 800m, 1500m, one mile races and combined events over the same distances.

Athletes who wish to compete would be required to take medication for six months beforehand and then maintain a lower testosterone level. Should they not want to take the medication they would be able to compete in international competitions in disciplines other than track events from 400m to the mile, or they could compete in men’s or mixed gender competitions or domestic (non-international) events.

In a press release published on Friday, the CAS said: “Over the course of the week, the Panel has had the opportunity to hear from all parties, experts and witnesses, with the IAAF president, Lord Coe, speaking at the outset of the hearing, and Ms Semenya having the last word today.

“The hearing was conducted in a cordial and respectful atmosphere throughout the entire week.

“The Panel will now begin their deliberations in this case, that can be considered as one of the most pivotal CAS cases, and prepare their decision which is expected to be announced by the CAS Court Office on or before 26 March 2019.”

During the course of the hearing, the varied reaction from across the globe has further highlighted the complexity of the case and how widely opinion is divided.

World marathon record-holder Paula Radcliffe and tennis great Billie Jean King are among those to have spoken out, with Radcliffe saying the effects of elevated testosterone on performance “can’t be ignored” and King describing any requirement for naturally high testosterone levels to be lowered with medication as “barbaric, dangerous, and discriminatory”.

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