Additional reporting by AFP.
Former Australia middle distance runner Madeleine Pape has experienced a shift in perspective on Caster Semenya and has admitted that her opposition to the South African athlete was ignorant.
After injury ended Pape’s career, she came face to face with the case against excluding women athletes with naturally high testosterone from certain events.
CAS have ruled that Caster Semenya and other athletes with differences in sexual development will have to submit to being drugged to keep their testosterone levels down. The IAAF policy that was labelled discriminatory even as it was allowed.
In an op-ed for The Guardian Pape wrote:
“I was reluctantly pursuing a PhD in sociology in the United States after a career-ending injury. Quite unexpectedly, I found myself taking a class where I was made to revisit what had unfolded at those championships.
“For the first time, I encountered the vast literature written by advocates of women’s sport who oppose the exclusion of women athletes with naturally high testosterone for both scientific and ethical reasons: scientifically, because biological sex and athletic ability are both far too complex for scientists to reduce to measures of testosterone, and ethically, because these regulatory efforts have always been characterised by considerable harm to the women athletes singled out for testing.
“While I was initially confronted and confused by this discovery, I eventually began to question the convictions about fairness and sex difference that I had long held as an athlete. “
Pape admits that her turnaround in views is also in part down to her befriending women who have naturally high testosterone levels.
“By 2015 my views had evolved sufficiently far that I testified in support of the Indian athlete Dutee Chand when she appealed against the IAAF’s previous set of rules at CAS. One year later, Semenya stormed to victory in the women’s 800m at the Rio Olympics. I felt regret: not at her gold medal, but at the vicious response from the track-and-field community
Pape said that the IAAF now faced a tough decision on whether to actually enforce the discriminatory rules or respond to calls for them to change their ways and get onto the right side of history.
“It (the IAAF) could simply breathe a sigh of relief and forge doggedly ahead with a regulatory approach that has plunged the sport into a quandary and which, over 70 years, has consistently proved scientifically and ethically indefensible.
“Alternatively, the IAAF could consider the road it has not yet travelled: engage in educational efforts aimed at promoting informed discussion, allaying fears of the unknown and promoting understanding as a viable alternative to exclusion.
Semenya has 30 days to decide whether she wants to appeal the ruling.
“For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of the CAS will not hold me back,” she said in a statement released by her legal team.
The statement said she was “pleased” to note that the three judges admitted that the IAAF’s regulations are “discriminatory against certain women”.
The statement said Semenya believes that the regulations “will be overturned” but it was not immediately clear if she will appeal the court’s decision.
The ruling also suggested that the IAAF defers the imposing of the sanctions on the 1500m and one-mile events due to the absence of clear evidence of advantages in these distances.