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Semenya goes to European Court of Human Rights to challenge competition ban

She has been barred from competing in races between 400m and a mile, unless she takes hormone-suppressing drugs.

South Africa's 800 metres Olympic champion Caster Semenya (right) and her lawyer Gregory Nott (centre) leave a landmark hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), in Lausanne, on 18 February 2019. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Caster Semenya said on Thursday she would take her case to the European Court of Human Rights. She said that she would ask them to find that Switzerland had failed in its obligations to protect her against the violation of her rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist has been barred from competing in races between 400m and a mile, unless she takes hormone-suppressing drugs. Semenya unsuccessfully challenged those rules at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. She then turned to Switzerland's Supreme Court, which dismissed the appeal in August last year.

This was because Semenya has differences of sexual development, a condition that causes her body to produce elevated testosterone levels. Those with the condition competing in some events have to take hormone-reducing medication to continue in the competition.

Semenya said through her lawyers last year she would challenge the regulations imposed by World Athletics in 2018.

Semenya's legal team, Norton Rose Fulbright, said through the statement it would argue that the European Court of Human Rights must act to end human rights violations.

"The regulations require these women to undergo humiliating and invasive physical examinations followed by harmful and experimental medical procedures if they wish to compete internationally in women's events between 400m and one mile, the exact range in which Ms Semenya specialises," the law firm said.

"I hope the European court will put an end to the longstanding human rights violations by World Athletics again women athletes. All we ask is to be allowed to run free, for once and for all, as the strong and fearless women we are and have always been," Semenya said through her lawyers statement.

Last year, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court held that the World Athletic's regulations violated Semenya's right to physical integrity. But it did not intervene further.

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