South African athlete Caster Semenya, who lives with “DSD” or Differences in Sexual Development, finished on the winning side of a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling. It was a ruling where Semenya challenged the Swiss government. World Athletics, however, does not plan to change its decision to require DSD athletes to take testosterone-suppressing medication.
Semenya won Olympic gold during the women’s 800-metre event at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The testosterone limiting rule came into effect in 2019 in women’s events from 400m through to the mile for athletes with DSD. Semenya, competing in her best event, the 800m, would be out as she refused to take the medication.
Semenya previously failed to overturn the ruling at the Swiss Federal Court as well as the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The appeal to the ECHR was started in Feb. 2021.
“The Court found in particular that the applicant had not been afforded sufficient institutional and procedural safeguards in Switzerland to allow her to have her complaints examined effectively, especially since her complaints concerned substantiated and credible claims of discrimination as a result of her increased testosterone level caused by differences of sex development,” said the ECHR.
“It followed, particularly with regard to the high personal stakes involved for the applicant — namely, participating in athletics competitions at an international level, and therefore practising her profession — that Switzerland had overstepped the narrow margin of appreciation afforded to it in the present case, which concerned discrimination on grounds of sex and sexual characteristics.
“The Court also found that the domestic remedies available to the applicant could not be considered effective in the circumstances of the present case.”
Semenya previously was examined apparently without authorisation and was found to have internal testes and no ability to bare children. Her natural testosterone levels are so high that women without DSD would need to take performance-enhancing drugs to compete. The 32-year-old previously was taking testosterone-suppressing medication and was unable to compete at an international level.