CAPE TOWN: Athletes with differences in sexual development (DSD) hoping to compete at the World Championships must submit to new rules curbing their levels of testosterone from yesterday but Caster Semenya appears ready to resist the regulations.
Athletics chiefs had set a Wednesday deadline for DSD athletes to submit blood samples to their medical team with a testosterone level below five nanomoles per litre, which they must maintain over the next four-and-a-half months.
But double 800 metres Olympic champion Semenya posted a picture of a clenched fist with the word ‘resist’ on Twitter yesterday morning, a signal she will not comply.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has been heavily criticised for the rules, with allegations that the science is flawed, regulations ethically dubious and potential medical side-effects unknown.
One of the most vocal have been the World Medical Association (WMA), who urged their member physicians in 114 countries not to assist in the implementation of the regulations.
But the global body has responded in a letter to the WMA, saying the rules have been developed after ‘many scientific publications and observations from the field during the last 15 years’.
The IAAF clarified that the regulations only apply to DSD athletes who are legally female (or intersex), have male chromosomes (XY) not female chromosomes (XX), testes not ovaries, testosterone in the male range and the ability to make use of that testosterone circulating within their bodies.
“In 46XY DSD individuals, reducing serum testosterone to female levels by using a contraceptive pill (or other means) is the recognised standard of care for 46XY DSD athletes with a female gender identity. These medications are gender-affirming,” the IAAF letter said.
The world governing body added that athletes who submit to the regulations will be assured of privacy.
“We have seen in a decade and more of research that approximately 7.1 in every 1,000 elite female athletes in our sport are DSD athletes with very high testosterone levels in the male range,” the IAAF said on its website (www.iaaf.org).