SA athlete Semenya makes one last attempt to compete in Tokyo


With barely four months to go for the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, South African athlete Caster Semenya is making a last-ditch attempt to compete in her favourite events — 400m and 800m — and has asked Athletics South Africa to lobby on her behalf in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to overturn a World Athletics (WA) decision, which makes it mandatory for her to take testosterone-suppressing medication in order to compete.

The double Olympic 800m champion, Semenya had last year lost her long-running legal battle against the regulations requiring women with high testosterone to take medication to compete internationally between 400m and a mile.

Semenya, who won the 800m Olympic gold in London in 2012 and defended it four years later in Rio de Janeiro, had challenged WA’s regulations which restrict testosterone levels in female athletes. The verdict was a blow to her hopes of being able to defend her 800m title at the Tokyo Olympics.

But with the 30-year-old athlete approaching the European Court of Human Rights and with her country’s government standing behind her, giving moral and financial support, there is hope that she might get a reprieve.

The South African athlete will challenge the WA regulation, which caps the testosterone levels in women’s events from 400m through the mile for athletes with differences of sexual development.

So far, she has only met with disappointment, losing her appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.

Athletics South Africa chief Aleck Skhosana was quoted as saying that an appeal had been filed with the ECHR to expedite the hearing so that Semenya gets to compete in the Olympic qualifying events.

“We expect the court to hear her matter as soon as possible and that is our position. It’s been an urgent matter and therefore we have launched an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to hear her case before the Olympic Games,” Skhosana was quoted as saying.

The South African government has pledged $803,000 for Semenya’s appeal.