Semenya seeks money for legal battle


Double Olympic champion Caster Semenya asked for financial help on Friday for her legal battle against regulations that require female athletes with high testosterone levels to take medication.

Semenya is currently preparing for a trial that will take place in May in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

The 33-year-old South African athlete won a long legal battle in Switzerland’s Supreme Court last July when this court ruled that Semenya was the victim of discrimination.

Semenya contested the issue of whether her rights had been violated regarding a requirement that women with high testosterone levels be obliged to lower these levels with the use of medication.

The three-time world champion in middle distance races is classified as a DSD athlete, i.e. an athlete with “differences in sexual development”.

Since World Athletics’ governing body introduced rules in 2018 that women with high testosterone levels are obliged to lower these levels with the use of medication, Semenya has refused to do so. As a result, she was banned from competing in the 800 m event.

In her long legal battle, Semenya lost an appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport and three years ago Switzerland’s Supreme Court upheld the decision. Semenya then took her case against Switzerland’s Supreme Court to the European Court of Human Rights, and won the appeal case.

The July ruling by the human rights court was largely symbolic as it did not question the World Athletics ruling and did not pave the way for Semenya (or anyone else in her position) to return to competition without taking the medication.

Swiss authorities, backed by World Athletics, announced after the ruling that they would take their case to the same human rights court. This court’s rulings are binding.

Trials are expected to begin on May 15.

“We lack money. We have many experts coming in who we have to pay,” Semenya said at a news conference in Johannesburg this week.

“Anything you can contribute makes a big difference.”

Among other things, Semenya won Olympic gold at the 2012 London Games and again in Rio in 2016.

World Athletics introduced the DSD regulations to create a level playing field in women’s events.

Semenya was forced to compete in the 5,000 m event, a distance in which she could not reach the final of the 2022 World Championships in Eugene.