The world of sports will have to wait at least another month for the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s verdict on the Caster Semenya testosterone case, but the United Nations Human Rights Council recently passed a resolution that criticizes the International Association of Athletics Federations for wanting to restrict levels of testosterone in female runners.
In response to the UN’s criticism, the IAAF released a statement saying their resolution contained “inaccurate statements.”
“It is clear that the author is not across the details of the IAAF regulations nor the facts presented recently at the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” read the IAAF statement.
“There are many generic and inaccurate statements contained in the motion presented to the UN Human Rights Council so it is difficult to work out where to start.
“The common ground is that we both believe it is important to preserve fair competition in female sport so women are free to compete in national and international sport.
“To do this it is necessary to ensure the female category in sport is a protected category, which requires rules and regulations to protect it, otherwise we risk losing the next generation of female athletes, since they will see no path to success in female sport.”
Following five days of hearings in Lausanne last month, the initial date given for the pronouncement on the “pivotal” case was March 26 but CAS announced a postponement a few days ago with an explanation that additional submissions have been made by both sides.
The controversial rule
While a decision is now being expected around the end of April, the UN has stated that the IAAF’s testosterone rule
breaches “international human rights norms and standards”, describing it as “unnecessary, humiliating and harmful”.
The rule states that any female athlete who has a “Difference of Sexual Development (DSD)” and therefore naturally produces high levels of testosterone would have to take medication to reduce those levels or race against men.
This will apply to women in track events from 400m up to one mile and double Olympic and triple world champion over 800 metres, Caster Semenya, is the most high-profile name that will be affected by the new regulation if implemented.
The UN Human Rights Council discussed the issue at its 40th session in March and expressed its “concerns,” while urging governing bodies “to refrain from developing and enforcing policies and practices that force, coerce or otherwise pressure women and girl athletes into undergoing unnecessary, humiliating and harmful medical procedures in order to participate in women’s events in competitive sports”.