Caster Semenya Accuses IAAF Of Using Her As A 'Human Guinea Pig'

Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya has accused the world athletics' governing body, the IAAF, of using her as a 'human guinea pig'.

Ria Das
Jun 21, 2019 11:25 IST
Caster Semenya world championships

Caster Semenya controversy is taking new turn everyday. The South African double Olympic 800m champion on Tuesday accused world athletics' governing body the IAAF of using her as a “human guinea pig.” “The IAAF used me in the past as a human guinea pig to experiment with how the medication they required me to take would affect my testosterone levels,” said Semenya, Firstpost reported.


Last month she was announced free to run the 800m without having to take medication. Then she has been denied participation in her favoured 800 metres race in Morocco. The upset athlete said that despite Switzerland’s highest court rejecting an IAAF request for eligibility regulations to be imposed on the South African, she is barred from running Morocco race. She appealed against International IAAF’s rules over testosterone levels in female athletes. Earlier the Swiss Supreme Federal Court ordered the IAAF to suspend its testosterone regulations for Semenya until June 25. The IAAF wanted a rule making it compulsory for female athletes with high level of testosterone to take suppressant if they wish to compete with the other women participants in international sporting events such as Olympics.

“Even though the hormonal drugs made me feel constantly sick, the IAAF now wants to enforce even stricter thresholds with unknown health consequences,” Semenya said in a statement.

“I will not allow the IAAF to use me and my body again. But I am concerned that other female athletes will feel compelled to let the IAAF drug them and test the effectiveness and negative health effects of different hormonal drugs. This cannot be allowed to happen,” she added.


The athlete's lawyers issued a statement on Tuesday welcoming the “publication by the CAS of the arbitral award setting out the CAS Panel's reasoning and limitations in making its award.” The CAS Panel states that “Ms Semenya is a woman. At birth, it was determined that she was female, so she was born a woman.”

“She has been raised as a woman. She has lived as a woman. She has run as a woman. She is – and always has been – recognised in law as a woman and has always identified as a woman.”

Semenya's lawyers said that the “IAAF has taken it upon itself to decide who is, and who is not, woman enough in the eyes' of the IAAF, and to discriminate on that basis.” “While the IAAF publicly claims that it is not engaged in sex testing, the CAS Award makes it clear that the IAAF is doing exactly that,” they said.


The IAAF reacted saying in sport “biology has to trump gender identity to ensure fairness.”

“Having the arguments of all parties and the detailed findings of the CAS Panel in the public domain will help to foster greater understanding of this complex issue...

... and to demonstrate the balance it is necessary to draw between the right for any individual to choose their legal sex and/or gender identity, which the IAAF fully supports and respects, and the need for sport to create and defend a protected category for females, with eligibility for this category based on biology and not on legal sex or gender identity.”


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“Sport is one of only a few, narrow sectors of society in which biology has to trump gender identity to ensure fairness,” the IAAF said.

“To define the female category based on something other than biology would be category defeating and would deter many girls around the world from choosing competitive and elite sport after puberty.


The IAAF considers that the DSD (difference of sex development) Regulations are a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of protecting fair and meaningful competition in elite female athletics, and the CAS agreed.”

Semenya, the 800m Olympic title winner in 2012 and 2016, was fighting IAAF’s imposed “hyperandrogenic” rules — the regulations for athletes with Differences of Sexual Development who want to compete in the female category.

Feature Picture Credit: EWN

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