29th May 2019

Determined Caster Semenya appeals pro-IAAF ruling to the Swiss Supreme Court

Caster Semenya has filed an appeal to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland challenging the recent ruling against her by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in favour of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). On the filing of her appeal, Ms. Semenya said: “I am a woman and I am a world-class athlete. The IAAF will not drug me or stop me from being who I am.”

Ms. Semenya expressed her thanks to those around the world who continue to support her efforts to secure her right to run free. She will ask the Swiss Federal Supreme Court to set aside the decision of the CAS in its entirety. The CAS decision condones the IAAF’s requirements for unnecessary and unwanted hormonal drug interventions on female athletes despite the lack of any medical protocols and the uncertain health consequences of such interventions.

Ms. Semenya’s appeal focuses on fundamental human rights. In particular, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court will be asked to consider whether the IAAF’s requirements for compulsory drug interventions violate essential and widely recognized public policy values, including the prohibition against discrimination, the right to physical integrity, the right to economic freedom, and respect for human dignity.

Dr. Dorothee Schramm of Sidley Austin LLP in Geneva is leading Ms. Semenya’s appeal to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court. She notes “The IAAF regulations violate the most fundamental principles of Swiss public policy. In the race for justice, human rights must win over sporting interests.”

The World Medical Association has rejected the IAAF’s demands for hormonal drug interventions on non-medical grounds and declared the IAAF regulations to be contrary to their basic ethical principles. The Swedish Medical Association has similarly called for the IAAF’s requirements to be lifted immediately because they amount to flagrant discrimination based on genetic variations of female athletes and they violate international medical ethics and human rights.

“It is gravely concerning that the IAAF has called on doctors to ‘clarify’ the gender identities of female athletes and justified medical interventions on female athletes as ‘gender-affirming’. Such views are based not in modern science or medicine,” said Ms. Semenya’s South African lawyer, Gregory Nott of Norton Rose Fulbright in South Africa. “Instead, they reflect an outdated and deeply flawed socio-cultural stereotype of what it means to be a woman.”

• For those who wish to support the next phase of the campaign, please contact the Social Justice Initiative at +27 11 327 6118 or menzi@sji.org.za.

• This media release was sent via email by Sidley Austin LLP on 29 May 2019.

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