DOHA (AFP) – Caster Semenya has responded to losing her legal challenge against new gender rules by entering the 800m in Friday’s Doha Diamond League meeting, while she hinted at ending her career in several cryptic tweets.
Semenya, the double Olympic champion at the distance, was added to the 800m start list on Thursday morning (May 2), a day after her appeal against a new rule regulating testosterone levels for women athletes was rejected by the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS).
Doha organisers said the South African runner had waited for the outcome of Wednesday’s CAS hearing in Lausanne, Switzerland, before deciding whether to run in the meeting that opens the Diamond League season.
Semenya had challenged the measures, introduced by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), that will force women with higher than normal male hormone levels – so-called “hyperandrogenic” athletes – to artificially lower the amount of testosterone in their bodies if they are to continue competing.
The rules will come into effect on May 8 and will apply to races over distances of 400m to the mile.
Semenya hinted at quitting the sport in a tweet on Thursday, saying: “Knowing when to walk away is wisdom. Being able to is courage. Walking away with your head held high is dignity.”
In a later tweet, she said: “They laugh at me because I am different. I laugh at them because they’re all the same.”
Semenya was not present at a press conference in the Qatari capital to hear IAAF president Sebastian Coe defend the CAS decision, saying it helped to create a level playing field in the women’s events.
“I think this is pretty straightforward, and it’s very straightforward for any international federation in sport,” Coe said.
“Athletics has two classifications: it has age, it has gender, we are fiercely protective about both and I am really grateful that the Court of Arbitration has upheld that principle.”
‘LIFE IS UNFAIR’
The two athletes who finished in the silver and bronze medal positions behind Semenya in the 800m at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba and Margaret Wambui of Kenya, will race against her in Doha on Friday.
Wambui, who has also faced questions over her testosterone levels but unlike Semenya has not been forced to undergo tests for hyperandrogenism, criticised the IAAF ruling.
“This life sometimes is so unfair”, Wambui wrote on Twitter: “Everything that happens, happens with a reason Caster.” She added: “This is life we Africans have nothing to say in this world and (there is) nothing we can do about it, so pole (sorry) my dear -so painful.”
Indian sprinter Dutee Chand, who won a long battle with authorities over her own hyperandrogenism, told AFP that Semenya’s court defeat was “wrong”, but backed her to overcome the potentially far-reaching ruling.
“This is wrong. I feel sad for her, she has been made to suffer like me,” Chand, 23, said.
“I think she and her team will find a way out. She is an Olympic medallist and her country is behind her.”
If Semenya refuses to take the hormone medication to lower her testosterone levels she could decide to step up to 5,000m, a distance not covered by the IAAF’s rules.
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