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Caster Semenya says rights court ruling is ‘only the beginning’

Double Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya Wednesday hailed the decision of the European Court of Human Rights which ruled her human rights were violated by Swiss courts.

“Justice has spoken but this is only the beginning,” she said in a statement released by her lawyers a day after the ruling.

The 32-year-old South African appealed to the Strasbourg-based ECHR after the Swiss supreme court rejected her appeal against World Athletics’ rules that she must take medication to lower her testosterone levels if she wishes to continue competing.

Semenya, who is classed as having “differences in sexual development (DSD)” but has always been legally identified as female, has refused to take the drugs since the international federation introduced the rules in 2018.

As a result, she has been barred from competing at her favourite distance of 800m and the rules were extended in March this year, meaning she cannot compete at any distance unless she takes the testosterone-lowering medication.

Semenya said Tuesday’s decision would be “significant for all sportspersons in throwing doubt on the future of all similar rules”. 

She expressed the hope that the ruling will ensure all sporting bodies “respect the dignity and human rights of the athletes they deal with”.

“My rights violated. My career impacted. All of it so damaging. Mentally, emotionally, physically and financially,” she said, without hinting at her next steps.

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