February 26, 2021 (New York, NY) — Today, South African Olympian Caster Semenya, who has long been fighting for the right to compete without harmful medical intervention as a woman with naturally-occurring testosterone, takes her case to the European Court of Human Rights.
In September 2020, Semenya lost her appeal against World Athletics’ (formerly the International Association of Athletics Federations, or IAAF) discriminatory regulation on female athletes with naturally higher levels of testosterone. This ruling stripped her of her ability to compete in her preferred event, the 800-meter, unless she agrees to lower her testosterone levels through medication or surgery, or to defend her Olympic 800 meter title at the Tokyo Olympics.
When it was announced in 2018, the World Athletics regulation was met by global outrage by athletes including Semenya, and by an open letter to World Athletics by Athlete Ally and the Women’s Sports Foundation signed by athletes from around the world including Billie Jean King, Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe.
In a press release today, Semenya stated, “I hope the European Court will put an end to the longstanding human rights violations by World Athletics against women athletes. All we ask is to be able to run free, for once and for all, as the strong and fearless women we are and have always been.”
Athlete Ally calls upon the European Court to uphold the human rights it is mandated to defend by ruling in favor of Caster and all women athletes born with higher testosterone levels. No woman should be forced to undergo invasive physical exams and harmful medical procedures in order to participate in the sport they love. Along with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the World Medical Association, we maintain that World Athletics’ discriminatory regulation violates the human rights of Caster and other women athletes, and must be overturned. Access to sport is a human right, and so is the ability to participate in sports free from discrimination.