Caster Semenya: ECHR hearing an 'important day in my journey as a human being'

Caster Semenya: ECHR hearing an 'important day in my journey as a human being'

Caster Semenya says Wednesday's European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber hearing will be "an important day in her journey as a human being and an athlete".

South African athlete Semenya, now 33, has been unable to compete at her favoured distance of 800 metres since 2019, following the introduction of limits on testosterone levels for female athletes by World Athletics.

Earlier legal challenges by Semenya at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the Swiss Federal Court were rejected, but a majority decision by the ECHR last July found her human rights had been violated by the Swiss government.

It found the Swiss government had failed to afford Semenya "sufficient institutional and procedural safeguards" to allow her to have her complaints examined effectively.

The Swiss government exercised its right to apply for the case to be referred to the ECHR Grand Chamber. That request to refer was accepted by the court last November.

While the Grand Chamber will hear Semenya's case on Wednesday, its ruling will be reserved to a later date.

Nevertheless, Semenya, who was legally identified as female at birth but has a condition which means her body naturally produces higher levels of testosterone than women without the condition, sees it as a hugely significant milestone.

"This is an important day in my journey as a human being and athlete. It has been a long time coming," she said in a statement issued via her legal team.

"In 2009 I stood atop the podium at the Berlin World Championships having just been sex tested and knowing that the world was judging my body and questioning my sex.

"In the 15 years since then I have persevered with dignity in the face of oppression. The adversity I have overcome has helped shaped me into a true champion and a compassionate mother, wife, sister, and daughter.

"I hope that the Court's decision will pave the way for all athletes' human rights to be fiercely protected, for once and for all, and inspire all young women to be and accept themselves in all their diversity."

World Athletics is not a party to the proceedings, but said last July it would encourage the Swiss government to refer the matter to the ECHR Grand Chamber.

It said at the time of the initial ECHR decision last July that its regulations were a "necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of protecting fair competition in the female category".

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