Athletics SA to challenge 'skewed' IAAF ruling

Caster Semenya will need to either take medication to lower her testosterone levels or run in long distance races. Michael Dodge/Getty Images

South Africa's athletics federation will be filing a challenge to the IAAF's controversial new female classification ruling, which will significantly affect star runner Caster Semenya.

The ruling, which comes into effect on 1 November, will require female athletes with testosterone levels above a certain amount to take suppressant drugs. If they do not, the women will not be allowed to run distances less than a mile.

This would preclude Semenya from her Olympic championship distances of 800m and 1500m, and she will be forced to run the 5000m and 10,000m instead, should she opt to refuse the medication.

ASA originally responded to the ruling by saying they would investigate the matter with experts before commenting, which they have now done, and have deemed the IAAF to be in the wrong.

They said on Thursday: "As had previously stated, we took the liberty to consult widely with role-players which included the Minister of Sport and Recreation, SASCOC, various expert institutions and other relevant organisations and individuals on the matter.

"Based on this consultation, we have now taken a decision that we will challenge the IAAF on these new regulations as we have found them to be skewed."

They added that unless a review of the ruling was undertaken, ASA would take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"As a member federation, we will engage the IAAF as our mother body and if they do not change their minds on this new rule after this engagement, we will proceed to CAS for further assistance on the matter."

ASA went on to cite the case of Dutee Chand, the Indian sprinter who successfully challenged a 2011 ruling that females with high testosterone levels had to take suppressant drugs to compete as women. CAS ruled in her favour in 2015.

The recent ruling has caused much outcry in South Africa, with many seeing it as a blatant attempt to remove Semenya from international competition, and even saw an IAAF lawyer resign in protest this week.

Herman Mashaba, the Mayor of Johannesburg, lent his support via Twitter, as did long jump Olympian Ruswahl Samaai and South Africa fast bowler Lungi Ngidi.