Semenya: United Nations slams ‘humiliating’ IAAF rule

March 26th, 2019

Plans to classify female athletes by their testosterone levels “contravene international human rights”, says the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Olympic 800m champion Semenya, 28, is challenging the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) over its bid to restrict levels of testosterone in female runners.

The UN called the plans “unnecessary, humiliating and harmful”.

The IAAF said the motion given to the UN contained “inaccurate statements”.

Under the IAAF rules, female athletes with naturally high testosterone levels would have to race against men or change events unless they took medication to reduce those levels.

The regulations will apply to women in track events from 400m up to one mile and require that athletes have to keep their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount “for at least six months prior to competing”.

The issue was discussed at the UN Human Rights Council’s 40th session in March, at which delegates asked for a detailed report to be put together for a future meeting.

In the meantime, the body put on record its “concerns” with the IAAF proposals.

The council said it wanted governing bodies “to refrain from developing and enforcing policies and practices that force, coerce or otherwise pressure women and girl athletes into undergoing unnecessary, humiliating and harmful medical procedures in order to participate in women’s events in competitive sports”.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, experts recently claimed the IAAF’s regulations risked “setting an unscientific precedent for other cases of genetic advantage”.

Speaking in June, two-time Olympic champion and three-time world champion Semenya called the rule “unfair”, adding: “I just want to run naturally, the way I was born.”

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