As Caster Semenya prepares for her hearing at the Court of Arbitration for sport on Monday, the South African public has rallied behind her.
The star athlete faces being barred from competing in certain races due to new regulations by the International Association of Athletics Federations. The international athletics governing body has denied its seeking to have athletes with differences in sexual development classified as male, saying it “accepts their legal sex without question”.
Meanwhile, the Sports Science Institute of South Africa has called on the IAAF to scrap new testosterone regulations.
The institute’s CEO Phathokuhle Zondi says this will have a negative impact on many athletes.”When you’re interfering with someone’s natural physiology, there are bound to be effects in the way that they perform. We’re not just talking about science physiology, let’s also consider the mental health needs of athletes like Caster Semenya and others that are involved. Will this intervention do harm or will it do good?”
Sport minister, Tokozilke Xasa said that “Semenya is not alone — the two athletes who finished behind her in the Rio Olympics 800m, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui, have also faced questions about their testosterone levels”.
But it is the 28-year-old South African, who also won the 2012 Olympic gold and has three world titles to her name, who has led opposition to the proposed rules.
“She looks forward to responding to the IAAF at the upcoming CAS hearing,” Semenya’s legal team said, adding that “her genetic gift should be celebrated, not discriminated against”.