IAAF rules to limit testosterone levels for female runners

The African National Congress party said it supports Semenya in "yet another attempt ... to exclude and discriminate against her." Reuters File Photo

New rules for female athletes with high natural testosterone levels could force two-time Olympic 800-meter champion Caster Semenya to stop running middle-distance races and were denounced as racist by South Africa's ruling political party.

The IAAF said yesterday that from Nov. 1 it will limit entry for all international events from 400 meters through the mile to women with testosterone levels below a specified level.

Women with elevated testosterone must reduce their level for "six months (e.g., by use of hormonal contraceptives)" before being eligible to run, and maintain that lowered level.

The African National Congress party said it supports Semenya in "yet another attempt ... to exclude and discriminate against her." "We call on the government to challenge this grossly unfair, unjust and blatant racist attempt by the IAAF to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and have these regulations set aside," the ANC said in a statement.

The new rules could yet be challenged, including by Semenya, at sport's highest court in Lausanne, Switzerland. CAS already has ruled once against the IAAF in trying to impose rules on hyperandrogenism.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe said it had "a responsibility to ensure a level playing field for athletes ... where success is determined by talent, dedication and hard work rather than other contributing factors." "Our evidence and data show that testosterone, either naturally produced or artificially inserted into the body, provides significant performance advantages in female athletes," Coe said in a statement.

Semenya now faces taking daily medication or start racing at 5,000 meters. Without the rules, the 27-year-old South African would likely defend her 800 world title in Doha, Qatar, next year. She also took bronze in the 1,500 at the 2017 worlds in London.

In 2011, the IAAF enacted a rule to force athletes with hyperandrogenism to artificially lower their testosterone levels to be eligible to compete. Two years earlier, Semenya clocked a 1-minute, 55-second time to win her first world title as a teenager in Berlin. While the previous rules were enforced, her season-best times were around 1:59 or slower.

The previous rules were challenged at CAS by sprinter Dutee Chand of India and overturned before the 2016 Olympics. In Rio de Janeiro, Semenya retained her Olympic title, running 1:55.28.

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IAAF rules to limit testosterone levels for female runners

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