soccer field

Norton Rose Fulbright runs with Caster Semenya

September 10, 2018

Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc (NRFSA) is privileged to be representing Ms Mokgadi Caster Semenya who is in the process of challenging the legality of the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) “Eligibility Regulations for the Female Classification (athletes with differences of sexual development)” (Regulations).

The Regulations were approved by the IAAF Council in March 2018 and are scheduled to come into effect from 1 November 2018. The Regulations will replace the previous eligibility Regulations, which were successfully challenged by Dutee Chand, the Indian 100 and 200 metre sprinter.

The challenge is currently pending before the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the outcome of this challenge will have broad consequences for many athletes globally, including Ms Semenya. Ms Semenya is joined in her challenge by the Athletics Association of South Africa.

The Regulations specifically target a limited number of athletics events, namely the 400 metres, 400 metres hurdles, 800 metres, 1 500 metres, the one mile and all other track events between 400 metres and one mile.

The Regulations will require athletes who have levels of circulating testosterone of five (5) nmol/L or above and who are testosterone-sensitive to meet certain criteria to compete and remain eligible to participate in international competitions sanctioned by the IAAF. Such requirements involve the athlete lowering their blood testosterone levels and maintaining those reduced levels.

Norton Rose Fulbright was approached by Ms Semenya when the Regulations were published in April 2018. Mr Greg Nott, a partner in the Johannesburg office, is part of a team of experienced lawyers, including Patrick Bracher and Sandra Sithole, assisting Ms Semenya with the challenge. Greg’s relationship with Ms Semenya goes back to 2009 when he assisted her, pro bono, to keep competing internationally whilst the previous IAAF regulations were challenged and eventually declared invalid.

The outcome of Ms Semenya’s challenge to the Regulations will have far-reaching consequences, not just for women who compete in athletics, but for women generally.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport rules do not allow us comment on the merits or procedural aspects of the case pending before the CAS.