Semenya considering filing for ‘damages’ as scientists admit findings behind testosterone rules are “exploratory”
Lawyer of South African runner Caster Semenya has indicated that they are currently considering filing for damages against the World Athletics.
This follows amendments to the 2017 findings behind the “differences in sexual development (DSD)” rules banning females from competing in distances from 400m to 1500m.
The 2012 and 2016 800m Olympic champion was unable to defend her title in the just-ended 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games because she’s ineligible per the rules.
The New York Times and The Telegraph (UK) reported recently that the scientists behind the study had now issued a correction about the impact high levels of naturally occurring testosterone in female athletes had on performance.
The corrections state that the initial findings were “exploratory” and that it “could have been misleading by implying a causal inference”.
Semenya’s lawyer Greg Nott described the change in the British Journal of Sport Medicine’s (BJSM) wording as “unfair, cynical and untoward”, and the timing of it just after the Tokyo Olympics as “shocking and reprehensible”.
The 30-year-old refused taking drugs to reduce her testosterone levels and tried to qualify for the Tokyo Games in the 5000m, but failed.
But the correction in the study has now prompted Nott to seek other avenues to gain justice for his client, having previously been unsuccessful at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) to overturn it.
Semenya has been waiting for a hearing at the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg, France for a number of months.
“We are considering the Cas route (once more). We are considering all options that are available to us. We will also look at damages to Caster – financial damages. She has been off the track since 2019, and we will look for damages as well possibly,” Nott told Independent Media (South Africa).
Asked who would be liable to pay such damages, Nott said: “We will look to the world body (World Athletics), and possibly certain individuals who have drummed this on. There is a fight here, and it’s not going away. I’ve been on this case for 12 months, and I am not giving up now.”
One of the individuals who has been a fervent supporter of the testosterone rules is World Athletics president Sebastian Coe, who told the BBC the rules have come to stay.
“There is 10 years of solid science that underpins the regulations,” Coe said. “I am sorry if there are athletes who have been misled by self interested and conflicted observations often by lawyers. The reality is that the rules are here to stay.”
But Nott is not giving up the cause. “Imagine me as a lawyer saying to you, I misled you. I would be stripped of my professional ranking,” he said.
“We are before the European Court for Human Rights. We are going to obviously look at what the consequences of this (correction) means for the ECHR. We have lodged our papers.
“We are going into the next phase of waiting for answers from various parties. We anticipate hopefully… we have been given a priority date, which we’ve been surprised by – we thought it would take longer. But it’s obviously a case of importance, so it’s been given a priority date.”