International Association for Athletics Federations issues swift riposte relating to speculation ahead of Semenya hearing

The IAAF has rejected reports that it plans to argue that Caster Semenya should be classed as ‘biological male’ at a landmark Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing next week.

The global governing body reacted to an article in The Times which suggested the IAAF was poised to claim that the Olympic 800m champion should be classified as a biological male who identifies as a female, by saying: “The IAAF is not classifying any DSD (Differences of Sexual Development) athlete as male. To the contrary, we accept their legal sex without question, and permit them to compete in the female category.”

The IAAF added: “However if a DSD athlete has testes and male levels of testosterone, they get the same increases in bone and muscle size and strength and increases in haemoglobin that a male gets when they go through puberty, which is what gives men such a performance advantage over women.

“Therefore, to preserve fair competition in the female category, it is necessary to require DSD athletes to reduce their testosterone down to female levels before they compete at international level.”

Next week’s CAS hearing in Lausanne will have an impact on other intersex athletes and is certain to continue to divide opinion. Many believe female athletes with naturally high levels of testosterone should not be discriminated against. Others feel women with lower levels of testosterone will have little chance in middle-distance races if the IAAF loses its case.

If the IAAF wins the case, Semenya will have to reduce her testosterone levels to no greater than 5nmol/L for six months prior to competing internationally.

The IAAF was due to bring in new rules on female classification in November, with female athletes with high testosterone levels having to race against men or switch events unless they took medication. But in October it delayed the introduction of the rules until March amid a challenge from Semenya.

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