Double Olympic 800 metres champion Caster Semenya will have to take medication to lower her testosterone levels or move up to longer distances as a result of new rules announced on Thursday.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has introduced new eligibility regulations for female classification for athletes with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD) for events from 400m to the mile.
The regulations require any athlete who has DSD to be recognised “at law as either female or intersex” and to reduce their blood testosterone level below five nmol/L (nanomoles per litre) for a continuous period of at least six months.
This level must be maintained for as long as the athlete wishes to remain eligible for competition.
The regulations, approved by the IAAF council in March, will come into effect from November 1 and replace the previous regulations governing eligibility of females with hyperandrogenism to compete in women’s competition.
Female athletes who do not wish to lower their testosterone levels will still be eligible to compete in non-international competitions, or in the male classification.
IAAF president Sebastian Coe said: “As the International Federation for our sport we have a responsibility to ensure a level playing field for athletes. Like many other sports we choose to have two classifications for our competition – men’s events and women’s events.
“This means we need to be clear about the competition criteria for these two categories. Our evidence and data show that testosterone, either naturally produced or artificially inserted into the body, provides significant performance advantages in female athletes.
“The revised rules are not about cheating, no athlete with a DSD has cheated, they are about levelling the playing field to ensure fair and meaningful competition in the sport of athletics where success is determined by talent, dedication and hard work rather than other contributing factors.”
Sections of the report were published in the media in the UK and South Africa on Wednesday and shortly before its official release on Thursday, Semenya posted on Twitter: “I am 97% sure you don’t like me, but I’m 100% sure I don’t care.”
Although Semenya did not specifically link the post to the new regulations, it quickly received replies in support of the 27-year-old South African, who has been in the spotlight ever since it emerged she was subjected to a gender verification test at the 2009 World Championships, where she won the first of her three world titles over 800m, aged just 18.
The IAAF introduced a testosterone limit in 2011, with the International Olympic Committee following suit soon after, and Semenya was beaten by Mariya Savinova at that year’s world championships and the 2012 Olympics in London, although she was later upgraded to gold medals when the Russian was caught doping.
While Semenya has never confirmed it, it is widely rumoured within the sport that she took daily pills to suppress her testosterone and stay under the IAAF limit.
That changed, however, in 2015 when the Court of Arbitration for Sport suspended the IAAF’s rules on hyperandrogenism for two years following a legal challenge by Indian sprinter Dutee Chand.
A 2017 ruling saw that suspension extended by a further six months, during which time Semenya claimed another Olympic title in Rio and a third world title in London last summer.
Earlier this month, she claimed an 800/1500 double at the Commonwealth Games in Australia but afterwards hinted that she may change events.
Semenya said: “If we still have speed in the 800m then we will still continue with the 800m. If not, then we will go further, because obviously there is 5,000m and 10,000m. When I do my long runs I feel like I can feed into distance running.”
According to Dr Stephane Bermon from the IAAF medical and science department, the treatment to reduce testosterone levels is a hormone supplement similar to the contraceptive pill.
“No athlete will be forced to undergo surgery,” Dr Bermon added. “It is the athlete’s responsibility, in close consultation with her medical team, to decide on her treatment.”
Eliud Kipchoge stormed to his third London Marathon title on Sunday to complete an impressive Kenyan double after Vivian Cheruiyot dominated the women’s race in warm conditions.
Kipchoge, 33, saw off the challenge of Ethiopia’s Tola Shura Kitata and home favourite Mo Farah to win his third London marathon in four years in a time of 2 hrs 4 min 27 sec, finishing more than half a minute in front of Kitata (2:05:00), with Farah third (2:06:32).
Cheruiyot, 34, timed her run perfectly to win the women’s event in a time of 2 hours 18 min 31 secs ahead of compatriot Brigid Kosgei (2:20:13), and Ethiopia’s Tadelech Bekele (2:21:40).
She took advantage of failed attempts to break Paula Radcliffe’s 15-year-old world record by last year’s winner Mary Keitany and runner-up Tirunesh Dibaba.
In unusually warm conditions in the British capital first Dibaba and then Keitany dropped off the pace, allowing the 2016 Olympic 5,000m gold medallist to claim victory.
After nine miles Keitany and main rival Dibaba were 25 seconds ahead of Radcliffe’s time. But Dibaba was soon reduced to a walking pace to leave Keitany with only her two male pacemakers for company.
Keitany, looking for a fourth win in London, also started to slow down as it became apparent Radcliffe’s record of two hours 15 minutes 25 seconds would not be threatened.
Britain’s David Weir won the men’s wheelchair race for the eighth time after a thrilling sprint finish.
The 38-year-old pipped Switzerland’s Marcel Hug into second place, with Daniel Romanchuk of the United States third.
Bolt, who retired last year after dominating the sport for almost a decade, had joked to his countryman that he would not be able to return to Jamaica unless he won the title.
After Blake slumped to third in last Monday’s final on the Gold Coast, Bolt arrived in Australia looking to poke a little fun at his former team-mate.
“I know Usain is going to trouble me a lot because he expected me to get gold,” said Blake after taking bronze in the 4x100m relay.
“I’m going to hide from him when I go back home,” added Blake, confirming that Bolt had yet to catch up with him at the Commonwealth Games village.
“He tried to contact me but I hid my phone. I just wanted to focus on the 4x100m but I know he’s coming to see me later so I’m going to hide.”
But Blake, who bagged a world title in 2011 after Bolt false-started in the final, played down the significance of his surprise Commonwealth defeat by South Africa’s Akani Simbine.
“If everybody saw what happened, I slipped at the start and couldn’t recover,” he said.
“It was a pretty easy race for me to win – I was in record-breaking shape and I’m still in that shape. But sometimes a mistake can cost you.”
‘Odds against us’
Blake had very little opportunity to prove his point with a makeshift Jamaica team in the 4x100m final, where England and South Africa were too far in front by the time Warren Weir had passed him the baton.
“I knew the odds were against us coming in because some guys pulled out at the last minute,” he said, referring to the late withdrawal of former world record-holder Asafa Powell.
“For me, I was always playing catch-up on that last leg. But I feel great and I’m just looking forward to the season.”
Blake pulled no punches when asked about the state of Jamaican sprinting with Bolt now out of the picture.
“We were dominating for a while but we are going through a transition period,” he said.
“We have some great young guys but they haven’t been exposed as yet. We just hope they can get it fast.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s not that they are getting better – it’s that we’re not performing,” added Blake.
“If we were performing with the times we are running, they couldn’t stay with us.”
However, Blake acknowledged it will be almost impossible to fill Bolt’s shoes.
“That’s what I love about Usain – he’s a sportsman,” he said. “And somebody like him comes along once every 10 years in the sport.
“He’s just different – you can’t try to match that. As (world athletics boss) Sebastian Coe said ‘you can’t replace Muhammad Ali’ – so why replace a Bolt?”
Provided by AFP Sport