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Commission for Gender Equality backs Caster Semenya in IAAF fight

The IAAF’s new regulations, which are due to come into effect in November, will force middle-distance female athletes to lower their testosterone levels to a certain level if they want to compete internationally.

FILE: Caster Semenya. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The Commission for Gender Equality says star athlete Caster Semenya has its full support as she prepares to fight the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) controversial testosterone rules.

The IAAF’s new regulations, which are due to come into effect in November, will force middle-distance female athletes to lower their testosterone levels to a certain level if they want to compete internationally.

Semenya confirmed this week that she's fighting the regulations in the Court for Arbitration of Sport on the grounds that they're discriminatory and unjustified.

In her court papers, she asserts that the “regulations are discriminatory, irrational, unjustifiable, and in violation of the IAAF Constitution, the Olympic Charter, the laws of Monaco (where the IAAF is based), the laws of jurisdictions in which international competitions are held, and of universally recognised human rights.”

Semenya in a statement said: “I am very upset that I have been pushed into the public spotlight again. I don’t like talking about this new rule. I just want to run naturally, the way I was born. It is not fair that I am told I must change. It is not fair that people question who I am. I am Mokgadi Caster Semenya. I am a woman and I am fast.”

Semenya has received support from many South Africans as she prepares to challenge the IAAF's regulations.

Semenya’s lawyers say her legal challenge is a landmark case concerning human rights and the discrimination of women in athletics.

Gregory Nott will represent Semenya in her case against the IAAF over the hyperandrogenism rule.

Nott says the regulations have major consequences for gender rights which are protected by the South African Bill of Rights.

Following the announcement of the regulation, South African law professor, Steve Cornelius, resigned from the IAAF’s Tribunal citing that he could not in good conscience continue to associate himself with an organisation that insists on ostracising female athletes.

Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa called the laws sexist, racist and homophobic.

Additional reporting by Masechaba Sefularo.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)