Expert: Effects of testosterone on Semenya will be debilitating

The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in favour of the IAAF, which means Caster Semenya will have to take medication to suppress her testosterone if she wants to keep running on the international stage.

FILE: Caster Semenya competes in the semi-final of the women's 800m athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships  in 2017. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - Following a ruling upholding new testosterone regulations for female middle-distance athletes, an expert says Caster Semenya’s performance will be negatively affected if she adheres to them.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Wednesday ruled in favour of athletics’ governing body, the IAAF, which means Semenya will have to take medication to suppress her testosterone if she wants to keep running on the international stage.

The three judge panel found that the rules targeting athletes with differences in sexual development (DSD) were "discriminatory" but that "such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics".

Cultural anthropologist Katrina Karkazis, the author of Testosterone: An Unauthorized Biography, has told Eyewitness News the IAAF’s regulations on testosterone will have a debilitating effect on Semenya’s performance.

Karkazis consulted on Semenya’s case and was also an expert witness in Indian sprinter Dutee Chand’s successful appeal of the IAAF testosterone regulations in 2015.

She explains the effect testosterone suppressants have on top athletes.

“The side effects are absolutely debilitating to an elite athlete because they change the whole chemistry of the body.”

She says the possible side-effects of this medication include metabolic issues, fatigue, dehydration, issues with muscle fatigue and depression.

Meanwhile, South African sport scientist Dr Ross Tucker questioned the IAAF's evidence.

“I don’t think that the evidence meets any standard of decent quality. It’s not robust enough, the methods and statistics were flawed, the magnitude of advantage they found was so small that I thought purely based on the evidence, that this policy was weaker than the one that preceded it.”

Speaking out after the verdict, Semenya said the decision would not hold her back.

In a statement issued by her legal team, Semenya stated “I know that the IAAF’s regulations have always targeted me specifically. For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of the CAS will not hold me back. I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world.”

The ruling may be appealed at the Swiss Federal Tribunal within 30 days.