A report which led to an Olympic 800 meter ban for Caster Semenya was partly 'misleading,' athletics authorities confirm
- A report which led to an Olympic 800m ban for
Caster Semenyawas partly misleading, authorities say.
- A 2017 report on performance levels in female athletes with high testosterone led to Semenya being unable to compete in Tokyo.
- Athletes with differences of sexual development are unable to compete unless they take testosterone-reducing drugs.
- The findings of the report, however, were only exploratory, a World Athletics scientist acknowledged.
Caster Semenya has renewed her battle for the right to compete at international events after World Athletics admitted some of the findings that led to a controversial law which saw her excluded from the Olympics were "misleading."
The two-time gold medalist was unable to compete at the Tokyo Olympics following a new rule introduced by the sport's governing body in 2019 which prohibits athletes with differences of sexual development from competing in races between 400 meters and one mile unless they take testosterone-reducing drugs.
The 30-year-old South African 800 meter runner has consistently refused to take testosterone-reducing drugs, citing concerns they could endanger her health, meaning she was forced to miss the Tokyo Games.
Now, however, her lawyers are seeking answers after the governing body admitted findings of the test which triggered the rules were based "on a lower level of evidence."
The Telegraph reports that the evidence was gathered in 2017 by two World Athletics scientists and found an increase in performance from females with high testosterone levels.
However a correction has been made by the the British Journal of
Stephane Bermon, the current director of World Athletics' health and science department, as well as his predecessor Pierre-Yves Garnier, this week said "the paper could have been misleading."
"To be explicit, there is no confirmatory evidence for causality in the observed relationships reported. We acknowledge that our 2017 study was exploratory.
"With this in mind, we recognize that statements in the paper could have been misleading by implying a causal inference," they wrote in a statement as reported by the Telegraph.
"Specifically, 'Female athletes with high fT [testosterone] levels have a significant competitive advantage over those with low fT in 400 m, 400 m hurdles, 800 m, hammer throw, and pole vault.'," the statement continued, per the Telegraph.
"This statement should be amended to: 'High fT levels in female athletes were associated with higher athletic performance over those with low fT in 400 m, 400 m hurdles, 800 m, hammer throw, and pole vault.'"
The admission has prompted campaigners to say the rule around testosterone reducing drugs should be dropped.
Gregory Nott, Semenya's lawyer, told the Telegraph that the announcement represents "very significant new information."
"We are in the midst of the European Court of Human Rights case and will be discussing with our London Queen's Counsel and the whole legal team how to introduce the information into the proceedings.
"World Athletics have recently given notice of their wish to intervene in the European Court of Human Rights proceedings and we would hope that they will now support setting aside the regulations.
"It is more than surprising that World Athletics did not reveal this evidence before the recent Tokyo Olympics and allow Caster to defend her 800 meter title."
Semenya won gold in the event at Rio 2016 and London 2012 but was unable to compete in her favored event in Tokyo. Semenya attempted to qualify for the games in both the 200 meters and the 5,000 meters - events that she is permitted to take part in - but failed to qualify in both disciplines.
In the 5,000 meters she was more than 20 seconds off Olympic qualifying pace.
Testosterone reducing drugs were a hot button issue at Tokyo after Namibia's Christine Mboma, who was prohibited from competing in her favored 400 meters because of her testosterone levels, won silver in the women's 200 meter race aged just 18.
Mboma's performance was so impressive that it prompted one former elite sprinter to demand she take a gender test.
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