Olympic Champion Semenya Is 'Biologically Male,' IAAF Claims - NBC10 Boston
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Olympic Champion Semenya Is 'Biologically Male,' IAAF Claims

The 28-year-old South African runner said she was unable to express how insulted she felt at the IAAF "telling me that I am not a woman"

Find NBC Boston in your area

Channel 10 on most providers

Channel 15, 60 and 8 Over the Air

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Olympic Champion Semenya Is 'Biologically Male,' IAAF Claims
    AP
    FILE - In this May 3, 2019 file photo, South Africa's Caster Semenya competes in the women's 800-meter final during the Diamond League in Doha, Qatar.

    The governing body of track argued in court that Olympic champion Caster Semenya is "biologically male" and that is the reason she should reduce her natural testosterone to be allowed to compete in female competitions, according to documents released publicly for the first time on Tuesday and which provide new insight into a bitter legal battle.

    The documents released by sport's highest court shows that Semenya responded by telling the judges that being described as biologically male "hurts more than I can put in words." The 28-year-old South African runner said she was unable to express how insulted she felt at the IAAF "telling me that I am not a woman."

    The IAAF's stance on Semenya and other female athletes affected by its new testosterone regulations — and Semenya's outrage at the biological male claim — was revealed in a 163-page decision published by the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport. It details parts of the courtroom exchanges that were held secret when Semenya challenged the IAAF over the highly contentious hormone rules in a closed-door five-day hearing in February. CAS had previously released only short excerpts of the final verdict when it was announced last month.

    Tuesday's fuller court records, which were still partially redacted, show the IAAF referred to the two-time Olympic and three-time world champion as one of a number of "biologically male athletes with female gender identities."

    Serhat Cagdas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

    Arguing that Semenya and others like her should be subject to its hormone limits to ensure fairness in female competitions, the IAAF stated: "There are some contexts where biology has to trump identity."

    Semenya vs. the IAAF is one of the most difficult issues sport has faced.

    Semenya was legally identified as female at birth and has identified as female her whole life. But the IAAF says she is one of a number of female runners in elite athletics who have medical conditions known as "differences of sex development" and who were born with the typical male XY chromosome pattern. That gives them some male biological characteristics, male levels of the hormone testosterone after puberty, and an unfair athletic advantage over other female athletes, the IAAF says.

    Semenya, who has been fighting the IAAF ever since she was embroiled in a gender verification test at the world championships 10 years ago, says the rules should be discarded and she should be allowed to run in her natural form. She disputes that she has a significant performance advantage.

    The IAAF won the recent case at CAS by a 2-1 majority of the panel of judges, allowing it to implement the testosterone limits.

    But in the latest legal twist, Semenya appealed the CAS verdict to Switzerland's supreme court on human rights grounds. She won an interim ruling to temporarily suspend the hormone regulations and the Swiss supreme court will hear her full appeal.

    Astronauts Make History With NASA's First All-Female Spacewalk

    [NATL] Astronauts Make History With NASA's First All-Female Spacewalk

    American astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch made history Friday with NASA's first all-female spacewalk. The astronauts walked outside the International Space Station to replace a faulty battery.

    (Published Friday, Oct. 18, 2019)

    The rules only apply to certain races, from 400 meters to one mile, but they include Semenya's specialist two-lap event.

    To be allowed to compete under the rules, Semenya and other affected athletes must medically reduce their testosterone to below a specific threshold set by the IAAF. The IAAF gives three options: A daily contraceptive pill, a monthly hormone-blocking injection, or surgery.

    The medical process has been criticized as unethical by experts and Semenya has refused to take medication to alter what she calls her genetic gifts. At least two other runners, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya, who are both Olympic medalists, say they are also affected by the rules. They have also railed against the regulations and criticized the IAAF.

    Tuesday's CAS documents shone a light on some of the details of the battle between Semenya and the IAAF over the last decade, much of which Semenya hadn't publicly spoken about despite her story making headline news across the world.

    Semenya said in witness statements to the CAS that she had been subjected to gender verification tests that included an intrusive physical examination ordered by South African track authorities in the buildup to the 2009 world championships without being told or understanding the nature of the tests. She was 18 at the time.

    Then, after her breakthrough victory at those championships in Berlin, Germany, Semenya said she was taken to a hospital where the IAAF conducted another test on her. Semenya said the IAAF did not ask her if she wanted to undergo the test.

    South Philly Explosions Seen from Inside the Facility

    [NATL-PHI] Philadelphia Refinery Explosions Seen From Facility Cameras

    Cameras inside the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery caught on video the massive blasts early June 21 from just yards away. Here is what explosions of hundreds of thousands of pounds of explosive chemicals looks like up close. The video is from Philadelphia Energy Solutions, via the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.

    (Published Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019)

    "It was an order by the IAAF which I had no choice but to comply with," Semenya said.

    She described the world championships and the public speculation that erupted over her gender as "the most profound and humiliating experience of my life."

    Semenya also described a five-year period from 2010-15 where she reluctantly agreed to take testosterone-suppressing oral contraceptives recommended by the IAAF so she could continue running.

    They caused significant weight gain, made her constantly feel sick, led to regular fevers and internal abdominal pain, she said.

    She said the IAAF had used her as a "lab rat" as it experimented with a medical process it would later introduce as part of its testosterone rules.

    In a statement released later Tuesday, Semenya said: "I will not allow the IAAF to use me and my body again." 

    Tentative Deal Reached Between UAW and GM

    [NATL] Tentative Deal Reached Between UAW and GM

    A tentative deal between General Motors and the United Auto Workers has been reached and could bring an end to a strike which began in September.

    (Published Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019)