Semenya lawyer prepares testosterone rule problem in European court docket

Semenya lawyer prepares testosterone rule challenge in European court

JOHANNESBURG: The lawyer for South African 800-meter Olympic champion Caster Semenya, who is banned from certain races unless she takes hormone suppressants, has told AFP that he is preparing to go to the European Court of Human Rights to resolve the ban to contest.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Semenya has differences in sexual development (DSD), a condition that causes her body to produce elevated levels of testosterone.

The World Athletics Federation banned Semenya and other DSD athletes from racing between 400 meters and a mile in 2018 unless they are taking hormone-suppressing drugs.

29-year-old Semenya has unsuccessfully challenged these rules before the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).

She then turned to the Swiss Supreme Court, which dismissed the appeal last month.

"It was not a complete surprise," said Semenya's lawyer Gregory Nott in an interview on Wednesday, noting that Swiss federal court cases were "very difficult to win".

"As usual with Caster, she took it very strongly and very well," he recalled. "She is ready for more fighting too."

Nott said a legal team was preparing the documents to bring the case to the European Court of Justice (ECHR) – a process that would take "a few more months".

Semenya would then decide whether to continue or not, he added.

"We're just the horse and she's the jockey, so let's hear what Caster has to say," Nott said. "She has a mind of her own."

In its judgment, the Swiss court came to the conclusion that the CAS decision “cannot be challenged”.

"Fairness in sport is a legitimate concern," said the court, adding that the ECHR also "attaches special importance to the aspect of fair competition".

Nott has represented Semenya since she was forced to undergo a gender check to compete against women at the 2009 Berlin World Cup.

She won 800m gold at the age of 18 and was subsequently given medication to lower her testosterone levels. She spent six months outside of World Athletics before returning to competition.

"I almost see them as part of the family," said Nott. "She means a lot to me … and her cause means a lot not only to herself but also to other runners like her." Semenya was raised as a woman, identified as a woman, and raged as a woman.