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Caster Semenya makes final bid to compete in the Olympic 800m

The two-time Olympic champion announced that she has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights to overturn the ruling preventing her from defending her 800m title

Caster Semenya is making one last attempt to overturn a ruling preventing her from defending her 800m Olympic title at the Tokyo 2021 Games. According to the Olympic Channel, the two-time Olympic gold medallist has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights to fight against the World Athletics rule that says athletes with Differences in Sexual Development (DSD) are barred from competing in events from the 400m to the mile without taking testosterone-reducing medication.

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This rule, which would prevent Semenya from defending her 800m Olympic title, was brought in by World Athletics as a part of the Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification in 2018. The following year, Semenya appealed to the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS) to overturn the rule, but lost her case, and she was prevented from running the 800m at the 2019 World Championships in Doha. In September 2020 she was again unsuccessful at reversing the rule at the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.

She announced her appeal via Twitter and Instagram on Thursday, with the following statement:
“This fight is not just about me … it’s about taking a stand and fighting for dignity, equality and the human rights of women in sport. All we ask is to be able to run free once and for all, as the strong and fearless women we are and have always been. Thank you to all of those who have stood behind me relentlessly on this journey. We keep moving.”


World Athletics has defended the September 2020 ruling, with the following statement:
“We are committed to the full participation of women in the sport of athletics, be that as elite female athletes in fair and meaningful competition, as young girls developing life and sport skills, or as administrators or officials…World Athletics 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. As the SFT specifically recognised, however, the DSD Regulations are not about challenging an individual’s gender identity, but rather about protecting fair competition for all female athletes.”
If Semenya’s final appeal is turned down, she will either have to compete in a different event (as the 2016 Olympic 800m silver medalist, Francine Niyonsaba, has chosen to do), take medication to lower her testosterone in order to compete in the 800m or sit out the Olympics entirely.