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[EXPLAINER] New IAAF regulations

Any athlete determined to have a difference of sexual development, which means a testosterone level of 5 nanomoles per litre or higher & is androgen-sensitive, must meet a set of criteria to compete.

The International Association of Athletics Federations. Picture: IAAF.org

CAPE TOWN - The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) says revised rules around testosterone levels among female athletes are not about cheating, but about levelling the playing field to ensure fair and meaningful competition.

The new regulations stipulate any athlete who is determined to have a difference of sexual development, which means a testosterone level of five nanomoles per litre or higher and is androgen-sensitive, must meet a set of criteria to compete.

The laws come into effect in November and only apply to middle distances races which include those South Africa star athlete Caster Semenya competes in.

The criteria states:

She must be recognised by law as either female or intersex.

She must reduce her blood testosterone level to below five nanomoles per litre for at least six months which can be done through hormonal contraceptives.

She must maintain that level continuously, whether in competition or out.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe says the body has a responsibility to ensure a level playing field for athletes.

He says evidence and data show testosterone, either naturally produced or artificially inserted into the body, provides significant performance advantages in female athletes.

Coe goes on to say the revised rules are not about cheating but are about levelling the playing field to ensure fair and meaningful competition in the sport of athletics.

The IAAF says most females have low levels of testosterone of under 1.8 nanomoles per litre, while adult males range between 7.7 seven litres and 29.4 litres.

The body says no female would have serum levels of natural testosterone at 5 nanomoles unless they have a difference of sexual development.