Caster Semenya vs IAAF: South Africa sports minister Tokozile Xasa says federation wants to violate women's bodies

South Africa's sports minister accused the IAAF on Thursday of seeking to violate women's bodies as she visited Switzerland to back Caster Semenya's fight against proposals to restrict female athletes' testosterone levels.

Agence France-Presse February 22, 2019 11:54:38 IST
Caster Semenya vs IAAF: South Africa sports minister Tokozile Xasa says federation wants to violate women's bodies
  • Semenya, a double Olympic 800 metres champion, has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne to challenge the rules proposed by IAAF

  • South Africa's Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa said her trip to the Alpine nation was aimed at offering support to her compatriot Semenya

  • Xasa was wearing a t-shirt that said – We oppose IAAF regulations – and voiced hope the message would help drive the global campaign.

Lausanne: South Africa's sports minister accused the IAAF on Thursday of seeking to violate women's bodies as she visited Switzerland to back Caster Semenya's fight against proposals to restrict female athletes' testosterone levels.

Caster Semenya vs IAAF South Africa sports minister Tokozile Xasa says federation wants to violate womens bodies

South Africa's Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa shows a t-shirt reading "We oppose IAAF regulations" during a press conference to support Olympic champion Caster Semenya. AFP

Semenya, a double Olympic 800 metres champion, has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne to challenge the rules proposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

South Africa's Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa said her trip to the Alpine nation was aimed at offering support to her compatriot Semenya as the week-long hearing draws to a close.

But she also doubled-down on criticism of the IAAF, which has argued the proposed rules are necessary to create a "level playing field" for other female athletes.

"We are talking (about) violations of women's bodies. Where women have to explain themselves for how they appear in the eyes of (others)," Xasa said.

"It is not just about South Africa...(or) the participation of women in sport," she added, stressing that fundamental human rights issues were at stake in the hearing.

Read Firstpost's detailed explainer about how the Caster Semenya case against the IAAF on hyperandrogenism will have wider ramifications in athletics, here

What's IAAF's rationale behind the controversial hyperandrogenism rules and why are some runners backing it?

The controversial measures would force so-called "hyperandrogenic" athletes or those with "differences of sexual development" (DSD) to seek treatment to lower their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount if they wish to continue competing as women.

Xasa said she had been asked to carry a message to Semenya from South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

"Remember, you are great. Remember, that you are a symbol that constantly reminds us that nothing beats the enduring power of human spirit," Xasa quoted the president as saying.

"We want to make sure that you don't feel alone," she added.

Semenya stood at the back of the room as the minister spoke and did not address the media.

Many South Africans have thrown their weight behind Semenya in the media and online.

Last week the government launched a campaign dubbed #NaturallySuperior in a bid to drum up international support for Semenya's fight against the rules which they have labelled "discriminatory".

Xasa was wearing a t-shirt that said "we oppose IAAF regulations" and voiced hope the message would help drive the global campaign.

The track and field body has said that DSD athletes that have male levels of testosterone can have clear advantages in bone and muscle size and strength and would therefore have an unfair edge over their competitors.

Semenya is not the only athlete potentially affected by the new rules – the two athletes who finished behind her in the Rio Olympics 800m, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Kenya's Margaret Wambui, have also faced questions about their testosterone levels.

A judgement in the case is expected by the end of March.

Updated Date:

also read

Sri Lanka vs South Africa: All-round Proteas clinch T20I series in style with nine-wicket victory
First Cricket News

Sri Lanka vs South Africa: All-round Proteas clinch T20I series in style with nine-wicket victory

Shamsi and Markram took three wickets each to help bowl out Sri Lanka for 103, a total the tourists chased down in 14.1 overs to take an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the three-match series in Colombo.

Highlights, Sri Lanka vs South Africa, 3rd T20I in Colombo, Full Cricket Score: Proteas win by 10 wickets, sweep series
First Cricket News

Highlights, Sri Lanka vs South Africa, 3rd T20I in Colombo, Full Cricket Score: Proteas win by 10 wickets, sweep series

Sri Lanka look for a consolation win in the third and final T20I after South Africa won the second game by a massive nine-wicket margin to gain an unassailable 2-0 series lead.

World Cross Country Championships postponed until 2023 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions
Sports

World Cross Country Championships postponed until 2023 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

"The postponement is due to the biosecurity measures and travel restrictions currently in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Australia," said World Athletics in a statement.