The Swiss supreme court has temporarily upended a controversial Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling which would impact non-male track athletes with higher than average testosterone levels. On Monday, the Caster Semenya ruling was suspended, which means the Olympic runner will be able to compete in an upcoming 800 meter race without taking medication to temper her testosterone levels, per The Hill.
On May 1, CAS acknowledged that such a requirement was discriminatory, but said that the rule requiring hormone suppression for Semenya and others was "necessary, reasonable, and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF's aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics in the Restricted Events," according to BuzzFeed News. Shortly after the CAS ruling, the South African Ministry of Sports vowed to fight back.
"The strength of scientific, medical and legal case we presented, we believe, the outcome is inconceivable on the fact," the Sports Ministry said in a statement at the time. "The facts before court and the outcome do not match."
Although the suspension is not permanent, Semenya appeared heartened by the development. “I am thankful to the Swiss judges for this decision,” Semenya said in a statement, The Hill reports. “I hope that following my appeal I will once again be able to run free.”
The Washington Post notes that the track and field world championships begin at the end of September. With the competition nearly four months out, it's too soon to know whether or not the rule regarding testosterone will be in place by the time championships come around.
Last week, The Post reports, Semenya personally filed an appeal against the rule, in addition to the appeal promised by Athletics South Africa.
“I am a woman and I am a world-class athlete," Semenya said in a statement at the time, The Post reports. "The IAAF will not drug me or stop me from being who I am."
In the past, Semenya has said that she believes the IAAF's testosterone rules were directly targeted at her. She has also long promised to fight against them.
“I know that the IAAF’s regulations have always targeted me specifically,” Semenya said in a statement following the initial CAS ruling on May 1, per the AP. “For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of the CAS will not hold me back. I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world.”
The rule has put Semenya and other affected athletes in a very difficult spot. In order to continue pursuing their athletics careers the way that they have been, they have had — or may need to — decide whether or not to take hormone medication. It's a serious medical consideration that could have a physical, financial, and emotional toll on those impacted. The Wall Street Journal reported that affected athletes would need to keep their testosterone levels lowered for about six months before a race in order to participate.