Desiree Ellis: SA rallying behind its star runner Caster Semenya
The International Association of Athletics Federations has denied it’s seeking to have any athletes with differences in sexual development classified as male.
JOHANNESBURG - As Caster Semenya prepares to take her fight against testosterone regulation to Switzerland, Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis says the country is rallying behind its star runner.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport is due to hear Semenya’s landmark case on Monday, where the double Olympic and three-times world 800-meter champion will argue “she’s undoubtedly a woman”.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has denied it’s seeking to have any athletes with differences in sexual development classified as male, saying it “accepts their legal sex without question”.
However, the governing body says it does want athletes, such as Semenya, to reduce their testosterone levels before they compete internationally.
The rules would force athletes with “differences of sexual development” to keep testosterone levels below a prescribed amount.
The rules were meant to come into effect in November but were put on ice pending Monday’s hearings.
Ellis says Semenya has the country’s support: “As the Minister of Sports and Recreation, Tokozile Xasa, said ‘hashtag naturally superior’, she has not taken anything and it’s against her dignity and human rights.”
She also says many South African athletes have drawn inspiration from Semenya’s uphill battle: “This is a ground-breaking decision that they [IAAF] are going to make. We stand behind her [Semenya]. Through all the adversity that she’s faced, she’s come out on top; she’s been our beacon of hope, motivated us, very strong and we draw from that strength. She continues to raise the bar.”
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