‘I’m Targeted Because I’m Undefeated’ – Caster Semenya

South African double Olympic champion Caster Semenya speaks during the Standard Bank Top Women Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, on August 14, 2019.
PHOTO: Michele Spatari / AFP

 

South Africa’s two-time Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya on Wednesday shrugged off critics in the face of a ruling that has banned her from defending her world middle distance title in Doha in September.

The 28-year-old has been embroiled in a bitter legal battle with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) over rules that force female athletes to regulate their testosterone levels.

Last month a Swiss court revoked a temporary suspension on the IAAF’s controversial testosterone-curbing rules, meaning the double Olympic champion Semenya can no longer compete in events between the 400m and mile, as she did in June and July.

Speaking at a women’s empowerment conference in Johannesburg, the defiant and confident Semenya said the obsession with getting rid of her was driven by the fact that she is undisputedly the best in the world.

“I’m targeted because I’m undefeated…I’m the best at what I do.”

“When you are the best in the world people get obsessed with what you are doing.”

“Probably I’m a ‘problem’ because I’m an over-achiever so we must get rid of you,” said the self-confident athlete.

Semenya was raised as a woman, races as a woman and is legally classified as a woman.

The IAAF argues that while it accepts Semenya is legally a woman, she has masculine attributes stemming from differences of sexual development (DSD) that create an unfair advantage over other women.

The IAAF this year introduced rules requiring women with higher than normal male hormone levels — so-called “hyperandrogenic” athletes — to artificially lower their testosterone to run in at some distances.

It is a position hotly contested by South African officials.

Semenya did not comment on issues around further litigation in the matter, saying that as an athlete she only wanted to stay focused on her training, which she described as her “weapon”.

“There’s not much that I can say about the case, what I can tell you is that I am on top of my game,” she said adding that she had no plans of quitting running anytime soon.

The athlete has said she will not take any body-altering medication.

The IAAF’s DSD rules — first adopted last year but suspended pending the legal battle — came into effect on May 8, applying to distances from 400m to a mile, and including the heptathlon.

The World Medical Association has urged doctors not to enforce the controversial new rules, warning that attempts to do so would be unethical.

AFP

South Africa To Appeal Against Semenya Testosterone Ruling

South Africa’s Caster Semenya celebrates after winning the women’s 800m during the IAAF Diamond League competition on May 3, 2019, in Doha. PHOTO: Karim JAAFAR / AFP

 

South Africa on Monday said it would lodge an appeal after Olympic champion, Caster Semenya, lost her case challenging new rules forcing female athletes to regulate their testosterone levels.

Semenya’s case has provoked a furious debate across sport worldwide about gender and “hyperandrogenic” athletes, those with “differences of sexual development” (DSD).

The decision on May 1 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, means female athletes with elevated testosterone will have to take suppressive treatment if they wish to compete as women in certain events.

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“We’ll file the appeal as soon as we possibly can,” Vuyo Mhaga, spokesman for the South African sport and recreation ministry, told AFP. “We feel that the scientific information that has been brought has been completely ignored.”

Mhaga said the appeal, to be lodged at the Switzerland Federal Tribunal, would be based on complaints over the judges’ past record on similar cases, lack of clarity over how the ruling could be implemented and how the evidence was handled.

“It is not explained how the IAAF (the International Association of Athletics Federations) is going to administer those regulations,” he said.

“We feel that the scientific information that has been brought has been actually completely ignored and we’ve got a belief that a different court will arrive at a different determination.

“Everything is being done through Athletics SA… they were the ones who were the applicants.”

AFP

Semenya Takes Gender Rule Challenge To Sports Court

Olympic 800 metres champion Caster Semenya of South Africa went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday to challenge proposed rules that could force her to lower her testosterone levels.

 

Olympic 800 metres champion Caster Semenya of South Africa went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday to challenge proposed rules that could force her to lower her testosterone levels.

Semenya made no comment as she arrived at the court in Lausanne for the start of a week-long hearing that could define the rest of the 28-year-old’s career.

The South African government has said the rules set out by track and field’s governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), specifically target Semenya and has called them a “gross violation” of her human rights.

The controversial measures would force so-called “hyperandrogenic” athletes or those with “differences of sexual development” (DSD) to take drugs to lower their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount if they wish to continue competing.

The rules were to have been introduced last November but have been put on hold pending this week’s hearings. A judgement is expected at the end of March.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe, arriving at the court, said: “Today is a very, very important day.

“The regulations that we are introducing are there to protect the sanctity of fair and open competition.”

The chief advocate for Athletics South Africa, Norman Arendse, said Semenya would give evidence.

“The whole week is going to be important. Obviously the evidence will be evaluated and assessed at the end of the process this week. so today this is the start,” he told reporters.

The issue is highly emotive.

When British newspaper The Times reported last week that the IAAF would argue that Semenya should be classified as a biological male — a claim later denied by the IAAF — she hit back, saying she was “unquestionably a woman”.

In response to the report, the IAAF — stressing it was referring in general terms, not to Semenya in particular — denied it intended to classify any DSD athlete as male.

But in a statement, it added: “If a DSD athlete has testes and male levels of testosterone, they get the same increases in bone and muscle size and strength and increases in haemoglobin that a male gets when they go through puberty, which is what gives men such a performance advantage over women.

“Therefore, to preserve fair competition in the female category, it is necessary to require DSD athletes to reduce their testosterone down to female levels before they compete at international level.”

Navratilova support

Semenya is not the only athlete potentially affected — the silver and bronze medallists in the Rio Olympics 800m, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui, have also faced questions about their testosterone levels.

But it is Semenya, who also won Olympic gold in 2012 and has three world titles to her name, who has led opposition to the proposed rules.

Matthieu Reeb, CAS Secretary General, said the case was highly unusual.

“It is unusual and unprecedented because we never had such a case at CAS,” he said. “What is going to happen I am not able to say, but it is going to be important for sure.”

South Africa’s Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa argues that the rules are “discriminatory”.

“What’s at stake here is far more than the right to participate in a sport. Women’s bodies, their wellbeing, their ability to earn a livelihood, their very identity, their privacy and sense of safety and belonging in the world, are being questioned,” Xasa said on Friday.

On Sunday, tennis great Martina Navratilova threw her weight behind Semenya.

The 18-time Grand Slam singles winner said it was significant that the rules would only apply to female athletes competing in distances from 400m to a mile.

“Leaving out sprints and longer distances seems to me to be a clear case of discrimination by targeting Semenya,” Navratilova wrote in Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper.

“And can it be right to order athletes to take medication? What if the long-term effects proved harmful?… I hope she wins.”

Semenya Under Pressure To Better Kratochvilova’s World Record

South Africa’s Caster Semenya runs to victory in the women’s 800 metres during the IAAF Diamond League athletics ‘Herculis’ meeting at The Stade Louis II Stadium in Monaco on July 20, 2018. Valery HACHE / AFP

 

Caster Semenya extended her winning 800m streak to 38 races, getting ever closer to Jarmila Kratochvilova’s world record, but she’s under increasing pressure to produce the goods given the rapidly approaching introduction of testosterone rules that could diminish her performances.

In Friday’s high-quality Diamond League meet in Monaco, Semenya again delivered the type of race that promised to challenge the longest-standing individual world record in athletics.

Leading from gun to tape, the 27-year-old South African was in world record shape at 600 metres before fading down the home straight to eventually win in 1 min 54.60 sec.

“It was just fantastic!” beamed Semenya. “Only the last 100 metres were a little off for me.

“It was a long month of racing for me and now I need to rest. I feel that on my body.”

Semenya added, “I wanted to break 1:54 but maybe next time. I want to be consistent at this level. I wasn’t thinking about the world record and it wasn’t on my mind.”

Kratochvilova’s record of 1:53.28 was set in 1983, the same year the then 32-year-old Czech runner won the world 400 and 800m double.

Her feats, coming relatively late on in a track career, allied with her incredibly muscular physique spawned allegations of doping, but she has always maintained her innocence and put her success down to the vitamin B12.

South Africa’s Caster Semenya celebrates after victory in the women’s 800 metres during the IAAF Diamond League athletics ‘Herculis’ meeting at The Stade Louis II Stadium in Monaco on July 20, 2018. Valery HACHE / AFP

 

Semenya has spent her career also under the spotlight thanks to her success and physique.

The South African is currently challenging the IAAF over controversial new rules on high testosterone levels in female athletes that the track and field’s ruling body plan to introduce on November 1.

The double Olympic champion (2012, 2016) and three-time world champion (2009, 2011, 2017) is now unbeaten over the 800m since her elimination in the semi-finals of the 2015 worlds in Beijing.

Turn to CAS

But off the track, Semenya has turned to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in her challenge of IAAF rules.

The powerfully-built Semenya is potentially the highest-profile female athlete that would be affected by such regulations.

Classified as “hyper-androgynous”, athletes like Semenya would have to chemically lower their testosterone levels to be able to compete, something the 800m runner says is discriminatory and in violation of the IAAF’s constitution and the Olympic Charter.

The IAAF’s proposed rules have been welcomed by many female athletes as a way to create a fairer playing field, but there have been others who argue that it does discriminate.

Just last week the IAAF responded to an open letter from the Women’s Sports Foundation and Athlete Ally, which requested that it rescind the new eligibility regulations for the female classification.

“The IAAF has not and will never try to prevent women from participating in athletics,” the Monaco-based body maintained.

“In fact, the IAAF has been one of the foremost advocates for women’s sport for almost a century. It has long championed equal access to competition and equal prize money at a time when many other sports still discriminate in this area.

“Contrary to claims made in an open letter written by the US-based Women’s Sports Foundation, the IAAF’s new female classification rule does not seek to prevent any woman from competing in athletics.”

Under the regulations, “women with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD/intersex)” will be eligible to compete in distances from 400m up to one mile if they take measures to ensure their testosterone levels are on a par “with the rest of the female population”.

“They will be eligible to compete in male and intersex competition. The choice is theirs,” the IAAF added.

Semenya faces a battle at CAS to overturn the rules and perhaps a race to snatch Kratochvilova’s world record to crown an outstanding career.

AFP

Semenya Sets New Women’s 600m World Record

South African Caster Semenya celebrates after the 600m women’s competition at the at the ISTAF Athletics Meeting in Olympic Stadion in Berlin, on August 27, 2017.
Hendrik Schmidt / DPA / AFP

South Africa’s Caster Semenya brought her glittering season to an end Sunday by smashing the world record in the rarely-run 600 metres.

The 26-year-old, Olympic gold medallist and three times world champion over 800m, clocked a stunning one minute, 21.77 seconds over the unusual distance at the ISTAF meet in the German capital.

She took 0.86sec off the previous best set by Cuba’s Ana Fidelia Quirot in 1997.

Semenya has been dogged by gender accusations since shooting to fame at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium when she won the 800m title as a teenager at the 2009 world championships.

In London earlier this month, the South African track ace won the world title over 800m for the third time following on from her 2009 and 2011 triumphs, but failed in an ambitious double bid, having to be content with just bronze in the 1500m.

Semenya said she was delighted to end her season in the German capital where she won world gold eight years ago.

“I feel at home here, always welcomed and loved. I won my first world title here, so this city is special for me,” beamed the South African.

“I wanted to deliver (the world record) to make the people here happy.”

– Easier than the 800m –

Semenya said she asked the organisers to put on the 600m race to test her speed as she finished 0.62sec ahead of America’s Ajee Wilson while Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba was third at 1.41 seconds.

“The 600m is a bit easier compared to the 800m,” she said. “Basically it is only a 400m sprint with the focus on the last few metres to the finish line. I love speed, so I liked it.

“The season is over for me now, but I still feel a bit fresh. “We started to train only in February so I still feel like I could compete for the next three months.”

Elsewhere on the track in Berlin, Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith took the women’s 200m final by 0.03sec from Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast, the world silver-medallist over 100m and 200m in London.

“I was glad to put in a technically good race, but at the same time, I had been hoping to go faster,” said the 21-year-old Asher-Smith, who timed 22.41 seconds.

American Sam Kendricks, the men’s world pole vault champion, won the event in Berlin by clearing 5.86m with Poland’s Piotr Lisek second at 5cm and France’s Renaud Lavillenie third (5.71).

“Piotr was trying to beat me and he almost did, I owe him two beers now – one for Zurich and one for Berlin,” said Kendricks having also beaten his Polish rival on Thursday at the Diamond League meet in Zurich.

America’s Aries Merritt, the 2012 Olympic champion, won the men’s 110m hurdles in 13.17, while Jamaica’s Julian Forte claimed victory in the 100m thanks to a personal best of 9.91 seconds to hold off world 200m champion Ramil Guliyev of Turkey.

“London is behind me. It was tough, but the more competitions you have, the better,” said Forte, who failed to reach the final at the worlds despite having been the fastest in the heats.

“I had been planning to peak in London, but a personal best at the end of the season is good.”

AFP

IAAF Study Into Testosterone Is Nonsense, Says Semenya

Semenya

Caster Semenya told reporters on Monday that she has “no time for nonsense” when it comes to allegations over her high natural testosterone levels.

Semenya, who won bronze in the women’s 1500 metres at the IAAF World Championships in London on Monday, has been questioned her whole career over her hyperandrogenism and the claimed advantage the high testosterone levels give her.

The IAAF published a study earlier in July which suggests athletes with the condition had an improved performance of between 1.8 and 4.5 percent.

On the track, Semenya said she had enjoyed her major championship experience of the longer distance after finishing third behind Faith Kipyegon of Kenya and U.S. runner Jennifer Simpson.

The South African will start as favourite to retain her world title over 800m later this week.

Elsewhere, Omar McLeod brought the smile back to Jamaican sprinting as he powered to the 110 meters hurdles title before dedicating his triumph to Usain Bolt.

Following the shock defeats of Bolt and Elaine Thompson in the 100 meters events, McLeod, another overwhelming race favourite from the Caribbean island, made no mistake as he added the world crown to the Olympic title he won last year.

The 23-year-old dominated the race, winning in 13.04 seconds, a meter clear of the defending champion Sergey Shubenkov, the Russian who was competing as an ‘authorized neutral athlete’ with his country’s federation still banned from international athletics.

Shubenkov, who clocked 13.14, was the first Russian to win a medal in London while Hungary’s Balazs Baji took a surprise bronze in 13.28.

World record holder Aries Merritt, of the U.S., who won the Olympic title in the same stadium five years ago, started strongly but faded into fifth place in 13.31 seconds.

Yulimar Rojas claimed Venezuela’s first-ever world title when she won the women’s triple jump by two centimetres from great rival Caterine Ibarguen in a see-saw battle.

The 21-year-old’s win came one day after the South American country won their first medal of any colour when Robeilys Peinado took the bronze in the women’s pole vault.

Afterward, Rojas said she hoped her country, which is embroiled in an economic and constitutional crisis that has resulted in more than 120 people being killed in anti-government protests, would overcome its problems sooner rather than later.

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Nigerian Acts Win Big At 2016 MAMA Awards

yemi alade 3Nigerian artistes had a good outing at the 2016 MTV Africa Music Awards with Wizkid, Yemi Alade and Tekno emerging big winners.

Wizkid won three major awards on the night as Artist of the Year, Best Male, and Best Collaboration.

Sensational singer, Yemi Alade, won the Best Female, while Tekno was named Best Breakthrough Act.

In that category, she went up against Tiwa Savage, Supreme Mavin Dynasty (SMD), Josey, Vanessa Mdee and Mz Vee.

From South Africa, Cassper Nyovest won the Best Live Act while Emtee came tops in the Best Hip Hop Category.

Controversial athlete, Caster Semenya was named the 2016 Person of the Year while South African trumpeter, composer, and singer, Hugh Masekela got a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sauti Sol from Kenya got the award for the Best Group.

The event held at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg on Saturday was hosted by Television personality and businesswoman, Bonang Matheba.

See below a full list of the winners.

  • Artist of the Year: Wizkid (Nigeria)
  • Best Female: Yemi Alade (Nigeria)
  • Best Male: Wizkid (Nigeria)
  • Best Group: Sauti Sol (Kenya)
  • Best Breakthrough Act: Tekno (Nigeria)
  • Best Live Act: Cassper Nyovest (South Africa)
  • Best Hip Hop in association with MTN: Emtee (South Africa)
  • Song of the Year in partnership with Google: “My Woman, My Everything” Patoranking feat. Wande Coal (Nigeria)
  • Listener’s Choice: Jah Prayzah (Zimbabwe)
  • Video of the Year: “Niquer Ma Vie” – Youssoupha (Congo) – Director: Antony Abdelli & Jose Eon
  • Best Pop & Alternative: Shekinah & Kyle Deutsch (South Africa)
  • Best Francophone: Serge Beynaud (Ivory Coast)
  • Best Lusophone: C4 Pedro (Angola)
  • Personality of the Year in association with DSTV: Caster Semenya (South Africa)
  • Legend Award: Hugh Masekela
  • Best Collaboration in partnership with ABSOLUT: DJ Maphorisa feat. Wizkid & DJ Buckz – “Soweto Baby” (South Africa/Nigeria)
  • Africa Reimagined: Vivian Onano and Mary Taedzerwa
  • Best International: Drake (USA)

Semenya fails to get Olympic qualifying time

Former world 800 metres champion Caster Semenya failed to reach the Olympic qualifying time when she clocked two minutes 3.60 seconds in her return to action after injury on Saturday.

Semenya won her event but the time was well outside the London Games qualifying standard of 1:59.90.

“I ran a little stupidly because I didn’t take the lead from the beginning. I thought they would push the pace but we all learn from our mistakes,” she told reporters.

“Everyone knows the Olympics is the most important thing this year so I must set the qualifying time, and we’ll take it from there.”

Semenya, 21, was embroiled in a controversy over her gender after her 2009 triumph in Berlin and the International Association of Athletics Federations ordered her to undergo gender testing.

In July 2010 she was cleared to run in women’s events and is currently returning to full fitness after a back problem disrupted her season last year.