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S.African Olympic champion Semenya asks for funds for legal fight

By AFP
South Africa South Africa's two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya appears at a press conference as she prepares for the next stage of her legal battle.  By Phill Magakoe AFP
FEB 9, 2024 LISTEN
South Africa's two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya appears at a press conference as she prepares for the next stage of her legal battle. By Phill Magakoe (AFP)

Double Olympic champion Caster Semenya on Friday appealed for help funding her legal battle against regulations requiring female athletes with high testosterone to take medication as she prepares for a May hearing at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The 33-year-old South African athlete won a long legal battle last July against Switzerland at the Strasbourg-based international court, which ruled she was the victim of discrimination.

But Swiss authorities, supported by World Athletics, have taken the matter to the ECHR's Grand Chamber, whose rulings are binding, with hearings slated to start on May 15.

"We lack funds. We have a lot of experts that come in that we need to pay," Caster told a press conference in Johannesburg.

"Anything that you may contribute, it makes a huge difference".

Semenya, who is classed as having "differences in sexual development (DSD)" but has always been legally identified as female, has refused to take drugs to reduce her testosterone levels since track and field's governing body World Athletics introduced the rules in 2018.

As a result, she has been barred from competing at her favourite distance of 800m.

The ruling by the ECHR last July was largely symbolic as it does not call into question the World Athletics ruling and does not pave the way for Semenya to return to competition without taking the medication.

Semenya won Olympic gold at the 2012 London Games and at Rio in 2016 and collected world titles in 2009, 2011 and 2017.

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

Semenya was forced to move up to the 5,000m, a distance in which she failed to reach the final at the 2022 world championships in Eugene.

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