Athletics: Caster Semenya declines Rabat 800m race, says organisers
PARIS (AFP) – Two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya will not run her specialist 800m distance at Rabat on Sunday (June 16) despite having received an invitation to do so, in the latest twist of her bitter court battle over gender rules.
“She received an invitation but is unable to organise her schedule to come to Rabat,” organiser Alain Blondel told AFP.
Semenya was cleared to take part in the Diamond League meeting after Switzerland’s top court rejected an IAAF request to re-impose rules obliging her to lower her testosterone before competing in certain events.
Organisers of the Morocco event had initially refused to allow the South African to take part but on Friday they “confirmed her invitation”.
“After checking the situation of Caster Semenya in the light of the decisions of the Swiss Federal Court, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the head of the international athletics meeting in Rabat, Alain Blondel, is happy to confirm the invitation,” a statement on the event’s official site said.
The Swiss federal court issued their order on Wednesday, explaining “this means that Caster remains permitted to compete without restriction in the female category at this time”.
The IAAF had earlier this month opposed a ruling by the court temporarily suspending the federation’s rules following an appeal by Semenya who won the women’s 800m at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
The athlete was contesting a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport which previously found the rules were “discriminatory” but “necessary” to ensure fairness in women’s athletics.
The rules require women with higher-than-normal male hormone levels, a condition known as hyperandrogenism, to artificially lower the amount of testosterone in their bodies if they are to compete in races over distances of 400m to the mile.
“No woman should be subjected to these rules,” Semenya said in a statement Thursday, adding she had “thought hard about not running the 800m in solidarity unless all women can run free. But I will run now to show the IAAF that they cannot drug us”.
The athlete, who underwent a gender test shortly before she won gold at the 2009 Berlin world championships, also dismissed the IAAF’s claim that it is committed to the full participation of women in sport.
“I am a woman, but the IAAF has again tried to stop me from running the way I was born,” she said in the statement, pointing out the hormonal drugs she had been required to take to compete had made her feel “constantly sick and unable to focus for many years”.
“No other woman should be forced to go through this,” said Semenya, whose Berlin test allegedly showed she had both male and female characteristics.
Semenya took to the track at the Montreuil meeting in eastern Paris on Thursday in the rarely-run 2,000m.
The 28-year-old duly won that race, taking to social media afterwards to say: “They keep talking, I keep winning. Isn’t that beautiful…?” That tweet, accompanied by emojis of crossed fingers and a talking head, garnered more than 65,000 “likes”.
Semenya, who won the 800m in the season-opening Doha Diamond League, is now slated to run the 3,000m at the Diamond League Prefontaine Classic, exceptionally being held in Stanford, California this year, on June 30.
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