Caster Semenya takes Olympics fight to human rights court after being told she can’t compete without altering natural hormones

Lily Wakefield
·2-min read

South African runner Caster Semenya has been forced to take her Olympics fight to the European Court of Human Rights after being told she can’t compete without altering her natural hormones.

Intersex athlete and Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya has held back time and time again, having been repeatedly barred from competing in women’s sport unless she modifies her testosterone levels.

World Athletics imposes hormone restrictions in women’s events from 400 metres to the mile, and last year tightened the restrictions even further.

After a lengthy court battle, in September this year Semenya lost her final appeal to compete in the 800 metres race at the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The Swiss Federal Supreme Court ruled that in order to compete in events between 400 metres and a mile, she must take hormones to reduce her natural testosterone levels – or else be considered illegible.

She said at the time: “I refuse to let World Athletics drug me or stop me from being who I am.

“Excluding female athletes or endangering our health solely because of our natural abilities puts World Athletics on the wrong side of history.

“I will continue to fight for the human rights of female athletes, both on the track and off the track, until we can all run free the way we were born. I know what is right and will do all I can to protect basic human rights, for young girls everywhere.”

Refusing to back down, Semenya has now decided to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

According to Reuters, her lawyer Greg Nott said in a statement: “We will be taking World Athletics to the European Court of Human Rights. We remain hopeful that World Athletics will see the error it has made and reverse the prohibitive rules which restrict Ms Semenya from competing.”

Alongside her dazzling athletic career, Semenya has become a role model for queer people around the world in her fight for equality.

Her foundation, the Caster Semenya Foundation, supports and financially empowers girls and young women, and has invested money into a menstrual cup company to help young people stay in school while on their periods.