'Wrong in principle' - reaction to Cas verdict on Semenya's appeal

Wednesday March 18 2020

Court of Arbitration (CAS) Secretary General Matthieu Reeb speaks to journalists after pronouncing the verdict in South African double Olympic champion Caster Semenya's appeal against International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) testosterone rules on May 1, 2019 in Lausanne. PHOTO | FABRICE COFFRINI |


Eighteen-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova: "The verdict against Semenya is dreadfully unfair to her and wrong in principle. She has done nothing wrong and it is awful that she will now have to take drugs to be able to compete. General rules should not be made from exceptional cases."

Marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe: "I understand how hard a decision this was for Cas and respect them for ruling that women's sport needs rules to protect it."

Megha Mohan, BBC Gender and Identity reporter: "The spectrum of identity stretches far beyond the binary, say human rights activists, so shouldn't Semenya's physical abilities be celebrated the same way as Usain Bolt's height and Michael Phelps's wingspan are? Either way this verdict does not signal the end of the debate."


  • 31 July 2009: 18-year-old Semenya runs fastest 800m time of the year to win gold at the Africa Junior Championships.
  • August 2009: Semenya undertakes a gender test before the World Championships in Berlin. She is unaware of the purpose of the test, with Athletics South Africa president Leonard Chuene telling her it is a random doping test.
  • 19 August 2009: Semenya wins 800m world gold, breaking the world-leading mark she set in July. After her victory, the news of Semenya's gender test is leaked to the press.
  • November 2009: There are reports that Semenya's test has revealed male and female characteristics. The results are not made public.
  • 6 July 2010: Semenya is cleared by the IAAF to compete again.
  • 22 August 2010: Semenya wins the 800m at an IAAF event in Berlin.
  • 11 August 2012: Semenya wins 800m silver at the 2012 London Olympics. This is later upgraded to gold after Russian winner Mariya Savinov is given a lifetime ban for doping violations. Semenya is also upgraded to 2011 world gold.
  • July 2014: India sprinter Dutee Chand, 18, is banned from competing after a hormone test shows natural natural levels of testosterone normally only found in men.
  • 23 March 2015: Chand begins a legal challenge against the IAAF's so-called gender tests.
  • 27 July 2015: Chand is cleared to compete; the Court of Arbitration for Sport suspends, for two years, the introduction of an earlier version of IAAF rules requiring female athletes to take testosterone-suppressing medication.
  • 20 August 2016: Semenya wins 800m gold at the Rio Olympics, but the decision to allow her to compete is questioned by other athletes.
  • 4 July 2017: Research commissioned by the IAAF finds female athletes with high testosterone levels have a "competitive advantage".
  • 26 April 2018: The IAAF introduces new rules for female runners with naturally high testosterone.
  • 19 June 2018: Semenya says she will challenge the "unfair" IAAF rules.
  • 18 February 2019: Semenya's legal hearing begins at Cas.
  • 1 May 2019: Semenya loses her challenge.