Olympic Champion: Semenya Appeal to Court


The Double Olympic champion, Caster Semenya’s, case moves to the European Court of Human Rights. This is according to Semanya’s lawyer in what appears to be the legal team’s last resort. The appeal was to challenge the 2019 Court of Arbitration ruling that female athletes with high natural testosterone levels must take medication to reduce it.

Semenya earlier lost her appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal but she indicated she will continue with her battle. The move to the European Court of Human Rights comes as no surprise as it is part of her vow to “fight for human rights.”

Race against Time

The athlete and her team are on a race against time to get a positive verdict before the Tokyo Olympic. Greg Nott, Semenya’s representative, is yet to give a timeframe for the legal task ahead. However, Semenya and her legal team are unlikely to get a verdict before the Tokyo Olympics scheduled for next summer.

What is the Argument on testosterone?

An increase of strength, muscle mass, and hemoglobin affecting endurance; are some of the effects attributed to testosterone. The Swiss tribunal stated that the requirement of subjecting certain female athletes to drug or surgical interventions as a precondition to compete does not amount to a violation of Swiss public policy. World Athletics lauded the tribunal saying it was “very pleased”

Athletes with Differences in Sexual Development (DSD) are said to have a significant advantage in power strength and size from puberty onwards as a result of elevated testosterone levels.

Semenya on the other argued in a previous statement saying, “Excluding female athletes or endangering our health solely because of our natural abilities puts World Athletics on the wrong side of history” She added, “I will continue to fight for the human rights of female athletes, both on the track and off the track, until we can all run free the way we were born.”


Are there others also affected?

The fact that Semenya, Olympic champion, is an intersex cisgender woman may not be foreign to you. However, what you don’t know is that there are other athletes just like her. Margaret Wambui of Kenya and Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi are also affected by the rules. Notably, Semenya is the most high-profile athlete affected.

Possibility of getting a positive verdict

In an earlier statement released, the Swiss tribunal insinuated that an appeal by Semenya’s legal team was unlikely to succeed. The statement read, “The European Court of Human Rights also attaches particular importance to the aspect of fair competition.” It went on to state,” In addition to this significant public interest, the CAS considered other relevant interests, namely the private interests of the female athletes running in the women category.”


The move to the European Court of Human Rights by Semenya and her legal team is likened to the kicks of a dying horse. But let us not be quick to jump to a conclusion.

“The setback will not be the end of Caster’s story,” said Greg Nott, Semenya’s lawyer. We will have to wait and see how the legal battle ensues at the European Court of Human Rights.




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