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Olympian Caster Semenya wins European Court of Human Rights appeal

The court ruled in favour of Caster Semenya's discrimination case.

By Emily Maskell

Caster Semenya wearing a white Nike sports top as she stands on the race track.
Caster Semenya is a three-time World Champion. (Image: WikiCommons)

Double 800m Olympic champion Caster Semenya has won a case surrounding testosterone levels in female athletes.

The 32-year-old South African was born with differences of sexual development (DSD).

World Athletics ruled in March that DSD athletes must have hormone-suppressing treatment for six months before being eligible to compete in all events.

Semenya has been in a long-running case with governing body World Athletics since the introduction of testosterone regulations in 2018, the BBC reported. 

Semenya’s required to take hormone treatment to suppress her natural testosterone levels.

The three-time World Champion middle-distance runner was unable to defend her title at the Tokyo Olympics due to these regulations.

Semenya has previously had two failed legal battles to overturn the regulations. However, on Tuesday (11 July) the European Court of Human Rights case ruled in her favour. 

“Her complaints concerned substantiated and credible claims of discrimination.”

The judgement ruled the government of Switzerland didn’t protect her rights at a Swiss Supreme Court ruling three years ago.

A statement from the European Court of Human Rights read that Semenya also hadn’t been afforded “sufficient institutional and procedural safeguards in Switzerland.”

“Her complaints concerned substantiated and credible claims of discrimination as a result of her increased testosterone level caused by differences of sex development.”

Caster Semenya had argued the testosterone-reducing medication could endanger her health. Furthermore, she campaigned that other athletes with DSD should have the right to rely on their natural abilities.

In response to the judgement World Athletics said current regulations around DSD athletes would remain in place.

“We remain of the view that the DSD regulations are a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of protecting fair competition in the female category as the Court of Arbitration for Sport and Swiss Federal Tribunal both found, after a detailed and expert assessment of the evidence.”