Court: Olympic Champ Needs to Lower Her Testosterone

Court sides with IAAF on rule affecting DSD athletes
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2019 8:21 AM CDT
Track Rule on Testosterone 'Discriminatory' but 'Necessary'
Caster Semenya celebrates winning the gold in the final of the Women's 800m during the World Athletics Championships in London on Aug. 13, 2017.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

The Court of Arbitration for Sport says a new policy that will require South African track star Caster Semenya to lower her testosterone levels before competing internationally is both "discriminatory" and "necessary." The CAS acknowledged some unfairness to athletes with a DSD (difference in sex development) designation—meaning they're hyperandrogenous or have elevated blood testosterone levels—in how the International Association of Athletics Federations policy applies specifically to them. However, two of three arbitrators agreed with the IAAF that high testosterone gives female athletes advantages in terms of size, strength, and power. They wrote that "such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means" of ensuring fair competition "in a decision that will send shockwaves through sport," per the Guardian.

Beginning May 8, all DSD athletes—usually with testosterone in the male range of 7.7-29.4 nmol/L, compared to 0.12-1.79 nmol/L for average females—will need to lower levels to below 5 nmol/L for at least six months in order to compete internationally in races of 400 meters to 1 mile. Semenya sees it as a personal attack. "For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down," but "I will once again rise above," she says. An expert tells the Guardian the rule could add seven seconds to Semenya's 800-meter running time, so she may move to the 5,000-meter race, which is exempt from DSD rules. She won gold in that event at the South African Athletics Championships on Friday, per CNN. Meanwhile, the South African Ministry of Sport will appeal, perhaps focusing on the potentially harmful side effects of hormone treatment, which CAS said could "demonstrate the practical impossibility of compliance." (Read more track and field stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.