SA government to continue to fight for Caster Semenya after court decision

Olympic and 800m world champion Caster Semenya (C) is flanked by SA Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa (L) and Sascoc predisdent Gideon Sam. File photo
Olympic and 800m world champion Caster Semenya (C) is flanked by SA Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa (L) and Sascoc predisdent Gideon Sam. File photo
Image: Wessel Oosthuizen

Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa says the South African government will continue to fight against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rules forcing female athletes to regulate their testosterone levels.

Caster Semenya lost her challenge against the IAAF testosterone rules on Wednesday after the Court of Arbitration for Sport's (CAS) ruled against the South African runner‚ prompting Xasa's impassioned response.

The double Olympic champion was fighting measures imposed by the IAAF that seek to force “hyperandrogenic” athletes — or those with “differences of sexual development” (DSD) — to lower their testosterone levels if they wish to compete as women.

“Naturally we are disappointed with the judgement‚” Xasa said after the CAS verdict was announced.

"However‚ we have directed Athletics South Africa (ASA) to request a copy of the full judgement

“We will study the judgement‚ consider it and determine a way-forward.

"As the South African government we have always maintained that these regulations trample on the human rights and dignity of Caster Semenya and other women athletes.

"We will comment further after studying the full judgement.”

Xasa said ASA‚ as a member of the IAAF‚ should take the matter up in the General Council of members of the IAAF.

“ASA should continue to lobby other National Athletics Associations in other jurisdictions to internally oppose these regulations‚" she said.

"We too in government will continue to lobby through other international organisations on our opposition to these regulations and to continue to put the necessary pressure on the IAAF to see the impact of these regulations on global human rights tenets and frameworks.”

The verdict is certain to cause controversy as Semenya was backed by many people around the world.

Xasa thanked the people of South Africa and many others around the world for supporting Semenya.

She has also thanked various sectors around the world‚ including human rights bodies‚ media‚ medical science fraternity‚ sport bodies and sport personalities‚ international bodies and sports law experts for their insights and unwavering support.

“The kind of support that Semenya received among South Africans was heartwarming‚ it was a true South African spirit of Ubuntu‚" she said.

"The international community through the Human Rights Council of the United Nations has once more proven to be a body worthy of its name.”

Soon after the judgment was announced‚ Semenya tweeted: “Sometimes it’s better to react with no reaction.”

The department established a high-level panel consisting of experts in medical‚ legal and public sector in a bid to raise awareness and mobilise support on the discriminatory nature of these regulations.

“I truly thank all teams who have worked beyond the call of duty‚ you are true patriots.

"I have no doubt that our case was compelling and the amount of support we have received was through your hard work‚” Xasa added.

“You remain our Golden Girl.

"What you have done for our people and girls is enormous.

"You have flown our flag high‚ you have united a nation and inspired a rural girl. For that we thank you Mokgadi‚” Xasa concluded.

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