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IAAF welcomes latest Swiss court decision on Caster Semenya case

Written by 
Published in Athletics
Wednesday, 31 July 2019 06:32

Prior ruling which temporarily suspended IAAF eligibility regulations has been reversed

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) says it welcomes a Swiss Federal Tribunal decision to revoke an order which had allowed Caster Semenya to race “without restriction” while her appeal against the IAAF’s new regulations on female classification is pending.

On Tuesday, Semenya’s team had announced that the Olympic and world 800m champion would be prevented from defending her world title in Doha following the new ruling by a Swiss Federal Supreme Court judge.

Semenya had submitted an appeal after she lost her landmark case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the IAAF’s new rules, which relate to restricting testosterone levels in female runners in certain events.

The ‘IAAF Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athletes with Differences of Sex Development (DSD))’ had originally been due to come into effect on November 1, 2018, but were suspended. Following the CAS ruling, the regulations started on May 8.

Under the new rules Semenya – and other female athletes with DSD – would need to reduce their natural testosterone level in order to take part in women’s events from 400m to the mile in international competition.

At the beginning of June it was announced that the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland had “ordered the IAAF to immediately suspend the implementation of the eligibility regulations against Caster Semenya”.

It is that ruling which has been reversed.

“The IAAF welcomes the Swiss Federal Tribunal’s decision today to revoke its Super-Provisional Order of 31 May 2019 after hearing the IAAF’s arguments,” reads a statement from the international governing body.

“This decision creates much needed parity and clarity for all athletes as they prepare for the World Championships in Doha this September.

“In the remainder of the proceedings before the SFT, the IAAF will maintain its position that there are some contexts, sport being one of them, where biology has to trump gender identity, which is why the IAAF believes (and the CAS agreed) that the DSD Regulations are a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of protecting fair and meaningful competition in elite female athletics.”

The Swiss Federal Tribunal decision document can be found here.

“For the time being, the “Eligibility Regulations for the Female Classification (Athletes with Differences of Sex Development)” (DSD Regulations) are again applicable to Caster Semenya,” reads the document in part.

“The Swiss Federal Supreme Court revokes its Super-Provisional Order of 31 May 2019 after hearing the counterparty (IAAF) and dismisses Caster Semenya’s request for the provisional suspension of the DSD Regulations, respectively for suspensive effect for her appeal against the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“The Federal Supreme Court also rejects the request of Athletics South Africa (ASA), which had requested the suspension of the DSD Regulations for all female athletes. The Swiss Federal Supreme Court has, however, not yet reached a final decision on the appeal itself.”

It adds, in part: “Caster Semenya appealed to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court against the CAS decision. She requested that the Court adopt (super)provisional measures and grant her appeal supensive effect, in the sense that the DSD Regulations would not be applied to her during the course of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court proceedings. ASA requested the provisional suspension of the DSD Regulations for all female athletes. By Super-Provisional Order of 31 May 2019, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court initially suspended the application of the DSD Regulations to Caster Semenya in order to provisionally maintain the existing status until the hearing of the IAAF. A request for reconsideration by IAAF in this matter was dismissed by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court on 12 June 2019.”

The document also states, in part: “… the Swiss Federal Supreme Court concludes, in a first summary examination, that Caster Semenya’s appeal does not appear with high probability to be well founded.”

In a statement released by her team on Tuesday, Semenya said: “I am very disappointed to be kept from defending my hard-earned title, but this will not deter me from continuing my fight for the human rights of all of the female athletes concerned.”

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