The IAAF will seek a “swift reversion” of the court order that is set to temporarily allow Caster Semenya to compete without restrictions.
Tuesday’s intervention by the IAAF, the governing body of world athletics, came in the wake of a ruling by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court (SFT) that was sought by the South African track star.
The two-time Olympic 800 metres champion is challenging the IAAF’s decision to impose restrictions on testosterone levels in female athletes competing at distances ranging from 400m to one mile.
Semenya may need to take hormone-suppressing medication, which she argues contravenes her human rights, if she loses her appeal and wishes to stay in athletics.
She is challenging a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling that supported the IAAF’s action. The IAAF has been given until June 25 to respond to her appeal.
The IAAF said Monday’s Swiss ruling had been issued without its knowledge.
It said its experts were not given an opportunity to explain why rules surrounding athletes with disorders/differences of sex development (DSD) “should remain in place and applicable to all affected athletes while the appeal is pending”.
Semenya, 28, has asked the SFT to set aside the decision in its entirety, however the IAAF appears unwilling to back down in any capacity.
In a statement, it said: “The IAAF fully respects each individual’s personal dignity and supports the social movement to have people accepted in society based on their chosen legal sex and/or gender identity.
“However, the IAAF is convinced there are some contexts, sport being one of them, where biology has to trump identity.
“The IAAF also believes the right to participate in sport does not translate to a right to self-identify into a competition category or an event, or to insist on inclusion in a preferred event, or to win in a particular event, without regard to the legitimate rules of the sport or the criteria for entry.
“The IAAF will seek a swift reversion of the superprovisional order moving forwards so that the DSD regulations apply to all affected athletes in order (among other things) to avoid serious confusion amongst athletes and event organisers and to protect the integrity of the sport.
“In due course, the IAAF will defend its DSD regulations and the CAS award in the appeal proceedings before the SFT.”
Semenya, who ruled out retiring after winning the 800m at the Diamond League event in Doha last month, two days after the CAS ruling was announced, welcomed the Swiss court’s declaration on Monday.
She said: “I hope that following my appeal I will once again be able to run free.”
Dorothee Schramm, Swiss counsel for Semenya, said on Monday: “This is an important case that will have fundamental implications for the human rights of female athletes.”
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