World and Olympic champion Caster Semenya is to fight a move to compel some female athletes to medically lower naturally-occurring testosterone levels at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Lawyers representing the South African athlete have announced she has mounted a legal challenge to the International Association of Athletics Federations’ Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification in Lausanne.
The regulations, which were issued in April and are due to come into force on November 1, are designed to combat claims that women with higher levels of natural testosterone enjoy an unfair advantage in competition.
Gregory Nott, director of law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, said in a statement: “This is a landmark case concerning international human rights and discrimination against women athletes with major consequences for gender rights which are jealously protected by the South African Bill of Rights.
“We are honoured to represent Ms Semenya and advance a position that protects all affected women.”
Semenya’s legal representatives, led by Mr Nott, say she has filed her challenge “to ensure, safeguard and protect the rights of all women on the basis that the regulations are irrational, unjustifiable, and in violation of the IAAF Constitution (based in Monaco), the Olympic Charter, the laws of Monaco, the laws of jurisdictions in which international competitions are held, and of universally recognised human rights.”
The middle distance star, who has hyperandrogenism, a medical condition characterised by excessive levels of male sex hormones such as testosterone, has previously been asked to undergo gender testing.
Female athletes competing in events from 400m to the mile will be subject to the new rules.
UAE National Paralympic Committee (UNPC) officials will travel to Germany later this month to officially sign the contract that will see Dubai host the World Para Athletics Championships in 2019.
Last week, the World Para Athletics announced the Emirate will stage next year’s showpiece event from November 7 to 15 which will be the last opportunity for athletes to press their case for selection ahead of the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
UPC vice-president Majid Rashed confirmed the country’s governing body will put pen to paper in Germany by the end of the month following the verbal agreement.
“We will be going to Germany later this month and only after that we will reveal more information about the championships,” Rashed, who is also CEO of the Dubai Club for People of Determination, told Sport360.
“It’s just a verbal approval between both parties and we will sign the deal at the end of this month.”
The championships will take place at the brand new athletics stadium – Dubai Club for People of Determination with more than 1,300 athletes from more than 100 countries set to compete. It will be the first time the event will be held in the UAE.
Speaking to the World Para Athletics website, Rashed added: “We are honoured to be trusted with such a prestigious event within the world of Para sport and are looking forward to welcoming the world to Dubai. As a club and as emirate, we have a long tradition within our organisation of delivering world class sporting events. We will build on what we have learned from hosting the Para Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships and our annual World Para Athletics Grand Prix, ensuring that this championship builds on the success of previous editions and the athletes inspire the world.”
And NPC president Mohammed Al Hameli, who is also a member of the International Paralympic Committee, is delighted that Dubai will get the chance to stage a global competition.
“We are very proud to have Dubai and the United Arab Emirates hosting for the first time the World Para Athletics Championships,” he told the World Para Athletics website.
“It is an amazing opportunity to showcase the development of Para sports in Dubai and in our country. The participating nations and their athletes will find world class facilities to be able to perform at their best. It will also be a great opportunity for the people of UAE and the citizens of Dubai to watch some of the world’s best athletes in action.”
It was another hot evening in Dubai but that didn’t stop the athletes putting on impressive displays in the final round of the Ultimate Athletics’ Race Night on Thursday.
More than 200 participants descended on Dubai Sports City for the sixth and last round of the 2017/18 season, which began back in October.
One of the main events of the night was the Ultimate 60m Masters final. Designed for men above 30 years, who don’t necessarily train in athletics, the fastest eight of the previous five Race Nights qualified for the title decider.
And it was Rafael Roots who reigned supreme winning the duel in 7.31 seconds. The 34-year-old is a coach for Nike Running Club and said it was a “great feeling” to be running again after stopping when he was younger.
“It’s been a long time. I used to do athletics when I was a kid and then I stopped because I got injured when I was 24,” he said. “Then I came back to do running again.
“I want to say a big thank you to Lisa (Campbell, founder of Ultimate Athletics) and everyone for bringing us together. They took the initiative and it’s really kicked off. It’s a great feeling to run here and brings back some memories.”
In the Junior division, it was a season to remember for Anabel Kimmel Wessollek and Yannick Kraus. Not only did they win multiple disciplines on Thursday, they also got their hands on a series of medals for their record-breaking feats.
For Kimmel Wessollek, she won the 80m, 150m and 300m duels as well, holding the record at Under-9 level in the 150m, 80m, 300m, hurdles and high jump.
“It feels really great to have won many medals,” she said, who along with other winners received her medals from Dannish Walker-Khan – a member of the winning U23 GB 4x100m team at the European Championships in 2013.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work and I train every Friday morning. I really enjoy sprinting and doing the high-jump and my aim is to keep improving and hopefully compete in the Olympics.”
For Kraus, the 11-year-old was first in the 80m, 150m, 300m and javelin. That’s no surprise considering the finished the season as the record holder in all those four events as well as the high jump, shotput and hurdles.
“It’s very exciting and I always try my best,” he said. “I sometimes get nervous before but I always had faith in myself. I want to continue developing and I hope to make an impact like Usain Bolt as I like the way he runs.”
He added: “This Ultimate Athletics season has been great. It makes you learn new things. When I first started, I didn’t know what the high jump was and now in two years, I can jump 1.38m.”
In the senior division, Megan Dingle tested herself in the 3,000m race and was the quickest female after clocking 11:22:21. The 14-year-old, who regularly competes in the 800m and 1,500m on Race Nights, was pleased by how she fared.
“I’ve been quite sick before and the heat didn’t help but I’m pleased with how I did,” she said. “It’s been a tough couple of weeks with exams but everyone’s in the same position.”
Conor O’Donovan triumphed in the 800m race with a time of 1:59:87 and the Irishman was pleased by how he ended the season.
“It was good. I was aiming below two minutes and I hit that a couple of months ago and now back with a time of 1.59 so it’s been pretty good,” said the 17-year-old.
“My season was very up and down. I started playing the season playing rugby and it was really physical and my running didn’t improve for quite a while. I got to that peak around three months ago and now I’m there.”