Caster Semenya Appeals to European Court of Human Rights Ahead of 2021 Olympics

Two-time gold Olympic athlete, Caster Semenya, is taking the World Athletics to the European Court of Human Rights. According to News24, Semenya’s lawyer, Gregory Nott, confirmed that Semenya will be appealing to the European Court of Human Rights. This follows the World Athletics’ “testosterone ban” which prevents Semenya, who has naturally high testosterone levels, from running the 400m and 800m track distances. The Olympian is appealing in order to defend her 2016 Rio Olympics 800m gold title in the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympics.


According to the BBC, Nott confirmed the appeal on Tuesday, 17 November 2020. South Africans have notably stood behind Semenya since the World Athletics’ 2018 decision which rocked Semenya’s career wins. The lawyer implored supporters to rally behind Semenya once again and join her in the fight in putting pressure on respective international sports bodies.

“As such, we encourage everyone to help create a more equal world by showing their support on social media and by putting pressure on their sporting bodies to embrace and apply internationally accepted human rights values in their activities and rules.”

The World Athletics effected the “different sexual development” (DSD) rule in 2019 which affected female athletes with naturally high testosterone levels. The arbitrary rules called for Semenya to either take testosterone-suppressing drugs or undergo surgery. Semenya has continually refused to take either alternative and maintains that her natural abilities should not be affected particularly at the detriment of her own health.

According to TimesLIVE, the South African Human Rights Commission and South African Commission for Gender Equality have reportedly supported the sprinter’s decision to appeal. Additionally, corporate investments from big companies like Discovery and Bridgestone have been pouring in despite international controversy.

Public debate around the DSD rule emphasises that Olympians are in some way naturally privileged and that testosterone is not the only factor influencing high performance. For example, American swimmer Michael Phelps has unusually long and wide feet but has never been contested for his “competitive edge”. The DSD rule has been questioned on the basis that it was effected as increasingly more Black female athletes broke previous track records won by white athletes.

Semenya has lost two previous appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court. Additionally, News24 reports that Semenya has been, over the past several months, training for the 200m sprint which falls outside of the DSD compliance rules.

South Africans on Twitter have expressed unending support for Semenya’s appeal.