Caster Semenya Forced to Lower Testosterone Levels to Defend Olympic Title

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2018

South Africa's Caster Semenya celebrates winning gold in the woman's 800m final at Carrara Stadium during the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, Friday, April 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Dita Alangkara/Associated Press

Two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya will be required to take testosterone-lowering medication in order to participate in the 800-metre event at future competitions, according to Ben Bloom of the Telegraph.

Per that report:

"Athletics' governing body, the IAAF, will reportedly announce the creation of a new female classification to be known as Athletes with Differences of Sexual Development [DSDs], which includes those with hyperandrogenism, such as Semenya.

"From November 1, 2018, athletes who fit into that classification will be forced to undergo testosterone-lowering treatment only if they are to compete in track distances from 400m to the mile."

Semenya appeared to respond to the decision on Twitter: 

A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that female runners with higher testosterone levels held advantages in a number of events, including the "400-metre (2.7 percent), 400-metre hurdles (2.8 percent), 800-metre (1.8 percent), hammer throw (4.5 percent) and pole vault (2.9 percent)," per Bloom.

The IAFF, who co-funded the study with the World Anti-Doping Agency, had previously required Semenya to take medication to lower her testosterone, though the Court of Arbitration for Sport eventually overruled that requirement. As Bloom noted, the CAS cannot overturn this new ruling unless it is appealed by an athlete.

IAFF Council president Seb Coe said last month that the restrictions were being put in place for competitive balance.

"It is clear that this is one of the toughest subjects the council and I have been discussing," he said, according to Bloom. "I want to make one point crystal clear, this is not about cheating, no athletes have cheated. This is about our responsibility to ensure, in simple terms, a level playing field."

Semenya, 27, has won gold medals in the 800-metre race in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics for South Africa. She is also a three-time gold medalist at the World Championships in the event and a two-time gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games.

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