CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South African middle distance champion Caster Semenya has taken her challenge to a female classification ruling by the governing body of athletics to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the court said on Tuesday.
Semenya, a double Olympic and triple world 800 meters champion, would have to take medication to lower her higher than normal levels of naturally-produced testosterone under the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) ruling.
The IAAF says her testosterone levels give her an unfair advantage.
“Caster Semenya seeks a ruling from CAS to declare such regulations unlawful and to prevent them from being brought into force. An arbitration procedure has been opened,” the court said in a statement.
Semenya is being represented by law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, who said in a statement on Monday the 27-year-old wants to be allowed to compete “the way she was born”.
The IAAF said its decision was based on peer-reviewed studies and observation by scientists which showed that females with above-normal or male equivalent levels of testosterone had up to a 12 percent performance advantage over fellow female athletes.
The IAAF also said it was ready to defend the new regulations at the court. South African media and politicians have rallied to her defense.
Testosterone is a hormone that increases muscle mass, strength and hemoglobin, which affects endurance. The IAAF rule is not directly aimed at Semenya but she will be most affected by it.
Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg