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Caster Semenya will race 800m on Friday in Doha

It could be the last time the two-time Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion races this distance if she declines to take medication to lower her testosterone in accordance with the IAAF's new rule, recently upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport

Caster Semenya, the 28-year-old South African runner who lost her appeal against the IAAF yesterday, has decided to race the 800m, possibly for the last time, at 2019’s first Diamond League meet in Doha on Friday.

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Semenya is a double Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion in the event. The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced yesterday it is upholding the IAAF’s rule that serum testosterone in female athletes with hyperandrogenism must not exceed five nmol/L. Friday’s race falls before the IAAF’s May 8 deadline to start medication to lower their testosterone to be eligible to compete at the world championships in September. This could be the last time Semenya races the 800m if she decides to move up in distance to the 5,000m rather than taking testosterone-lowering medication.

Semenya at the 800m final in Rio in 2016

There has been speculation she may be planning to move up to the 5,000m, which is not covered by the IAAF rule. (Semenya also races the 1,500m, setting a South African national record in the distance one year ago at Doha Diamond League. She may be avoiding that distance due to concerns expressed in the CAS’s statement about whether it should be covered by the IAAF rule.)

RELATED: Is Caster Semenya resigned to racing 5,000m?


For various reasons, the testosterone rule has always seemed to Semenya’s supporters to have been created with her in mind, but it would also apply to Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi (the silver medallist from the 2016 Rio Olympics), who recently went public about her own hyperandrogenism, and many believe the bronze medallist from that race, Margaret Wambui of Kenya, is affected also. All three women will toe the line at Friday’s race in Doha, along with middle-distance stars like the US’s Ajee Wilson (bronze medallist at the 2017 world championships) and Raevyn Rogers and Britain’s Lynsey Sharp. At 1:54.25, Semenya has the fastest PB in the field.

The start list is available here, and the race will be live-streamed at CBCSports.ca at 1:07 p.m. EDT. (The only Canadian at Doha isΒ Aaron Brown, who will race the men’s 200m on Friday just before the women’s 800m, at 12:56 p.m. EDT.)