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Landmark Semenya Verdict to be Announced Wednesday

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South African middle-distance Caster Semenya. Photo: AP / Mark Schiefelbein

By Michael Pavitt |

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has announced the verdict in the landmark case between Caster Semenya and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will be published on Wednesday (May 1).

CAS has been deliberating on what it has labelled one of the most “pivotal” cases in its history.

A verdict had initially been expected to be published on March 26 after five days of hearings in Lausanne during February.

The decision was then pushed back until the end of April.

Semenya, a double Olympic and triple world champion over 800 metres, is challenging the IAAF which is hoping to bring in new rules on female participation.

The IAAF claims the South African and other female runners with high testosterone levels, who compete between 400m and the mile, must either take medication or compete against men.

According to the IAAF, this is to create a level playing field but the 28-year-old Semenya and others have argued the testosterone in her body is naturally occurring and so to ban her would be unfair.

In October, the IAAF delayed the implementation of their new rules until the proceedings had concluded.

Semenya is by far the most high-profile athlete who the rules would impact, should they be introduced.

The case has provided heated debate, with Athletics South Africa and the United Nations Human Rights Council have both publicly criticised the IAAF.

The former had accused the IAAF of breaking rules related to the case earlier this month.

The IAAF had been accused of breaking rules when prior to the start of proceedings in Lausanne, the governing body released a list of expert witnesses it had been set to call.

Semenya’s lawyers described the release as a “clear breach” of confidentiality rules and labelled it an attempt to influence public opinion, before releasing their own list of witnesses the next day.

ASA then accused the IAAF of breaking rules once again after President Sebastian Coe gave an interview to The Daily Telegraph in Australia, in which he said their proposed rule was necessary to protect the women’s category.

“The reason we have gender classification is because if you didn’t then no woman would ever win another title or another medal or break another record in our sport,” he was quoted as saying.

Semenya’s lawyers said Coe had “reopened old wounds” with his comments, reiterating that the South African is a woman and suggesting that therefore, to ban her from women’s competition in order to protect women does not make sense.

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.

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