Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright is advising Caster Semenya in her legal case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne challenging the “Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification” of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF). Caster Semenya is the two-time world champion and two-time gold medallist in the women’s 800 metre event.
The Regulations compel women who compete in athletics at the international level to lower their natural testosterone levels through medically unnecessary interventions.
Today (Monday, 18 June 2018), Caster Semenya will file the legal challenge to ensure, safeguard and protect the rights of all women on the basis that the Regulations are irrational, unjustifiable, and in violation of the IAAF Constitution (based in Monaco), the Olympic Charter, the laws of Monaco, the laws of jurisdictions in which international competitions are held, and of universally recognised human rights.
The Regulations, issued in April 2018, seek to establish a divide within the female category on the basis of naturally occurring testosterone levels. The IAAF claims that higher natural testosterone gives these women an unfair advantage over their peers. They also claim that screening for high testosterone levels is needed to ensure a level playing field in women’s athletics, reasoning that testosterone unfairly improves performance in certain select events, which coincide with the events in which Caster Semenya runs.
Caster Semenya contends that the Regulations are objectionable on numerous grounds, including that they compel women with no prior health complaints to undergo medical interventions to lower their testosterone levels.
The timing of the upcoming filing is critical because the IAAF has announced that the Regulations will come into effect on November 1, 2018 and women must show lowered testosterone levels for a minimum of six months before they can be considered eligible to compete. Ms Semenya will ask the IAAF to suspend the implementation of the Regulations until her legal challenge is finally disposed of.
The Norton Rose Fulbright team advising Caster Semenya is led by director Gregory Nott.
Gregory Nott commented:
“This is a landmark case concerning international human rights and discrimination against women athletes with major consequences for gender rights which are jealously protected by the South African Bill of Rights. We are honoured to represent Ms Semenya and advance a position that protects all affected women.”
Notes for editors:
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