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SA rallies behind Caster Semenya ahead of CAS hearing

The star athlete faces being barred from competing in certain races due to new regulations by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

FILE: World 800m champion Caster Semenya. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - 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”.

Eyewitness News took to the streets to find out what South Africans had to say.

One man described Semenya’s case as offensive. “It feels like no matter how many hearings she wins, they’ll find something new to put in front of her, which is ridiculous. Why can’t we accept that she was created this way naturally. Her body produces it naturally, so why should we go and dampen her? It’s offensive. That’s what it is.”

A woman says that Semenya should be allowed to race without discrimination. “I think Semenya is fighting for the right cause. She’s fighting to not have to undergo necessary procedures. She’s fighting for her freedom like any other woman and should be allowed to race in the women’s category without being discriminated against.”

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?"

Additional reporting by Mia Lindeque.

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