Caster Semenya will be unable to defend her Olympic or world 800m titles unless she takes testosterone-lowering medication, under new rules due to be announced later this week.
Athletics’ governing body, the IAAF, will reportedly announce the creation of a new female classification to be known as Athletes with Differences of Sexual Development [DSDs], which includes those with hyperandrogenism such as Semenya.
From November 1, 2018, athletes who fit into that classification will be forced to undergo testosterone-lowering treatment only if they are to compete in track distances from 400m to the mile.
The new rules are to be implemented after IAAF-commissioned research concluded that female athletes with naturally high testosterone levels in those specific disciplines benefited from an advantage over their rivals. In the 800m, over which Semenya has won two Olympic and three world titles, the advantage was 1.8 per cent, while it was 2.7 per cent over 400m.
The IAAF introduced a similar rule in 2011 – two years after Semenya stormed to her first world title as a teenager – which forced the South African to take testosterone-reducing medication for a number of years. It appeared to have a major impact on her speed, significantly lowering her season’s bests from 2012 to 2015, when the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS] ordered a halt to the rule after an appeal by Indian sprinter Dutee Chand.