Caster Semenya’s loss of appeal at Swiss Supreme Court

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09 Sep 2020

The recent decision of the Swiss Federal Court to uphold a decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) regarding the IAAF (World Athletics) Regulations on Female Athletes with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD) is very unfortunate and offensive to the fundamental human rights of female athletes classified hyperandrogenic.

Both the South African Government and the global sporting community always held a firm view that these Regulations are a gross violation of fundamental human rights of DSD female athletes and therefore rallied behind the appeal by both Ms Caster Semenya and Athletics South Africa (ASA) in their legal tussle with the IAAF.

In March 2019, during Human Rights month, all political parties represented in Parliament of the Republic of South Africa made statements which were unanimous and unambiguous in the condemnation and classification of these Regulation as violation of both women and human rights and committed their unequivocal support for Ms Semenya

Voices across the globe joined us as Government and the country, to express concern about the Regulations. The support was further enhanced by the  Resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council that classified them as a “contravention of international human rights norms and standards including the right to equality and non-discrimination, the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the right to physical and bodily integrity and the right to freedom from torture, and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment and harmful practices.”

The Women’s Sport Foundation also characterised the Regulations as “exacerbating discrimination against women in sport who are perceived as not prescribing to normative ideas about femininity”.                                                                                        

On the medical front, the World Medical Association (WMA) also condemned these Regulations and called upon all doctors and medical scientists across the globe to take no part in their implementation. In its statement of the 29th April 2019, the Association demanded immediate withdrawal of the Regulations as they constitute a flagrant discrimination based on genetic variation of female athletes and are contrary to international medical ethics. It also expressed fears that athletes like Caster would be coerced to take unjustified medication not based on medical need, and further indicated that it is unethical for physicians to prescribe treatment for endogenous testosterone if the condition is not recognised as pathological.

Essentially this means these Regulations are not only a violation of human and women rights but their administration is considered unethical by the experts in the field of medical science.

“As the Government of democratic South Africa, a country renowned for its tradition of promoting and protecting basic human rights, together with Athletics SA, we will study the judgement and consider various options and avenues at our disposal in our collective campaign to fight this injustice.

We call upon all South Africans, Africans and the entire world to rally behind Caster in our quest to defeat injustice against Women in Sport and in particular African Women” - Minister Nathi Mthethwa, MP.


Media enquiries:

Mr Mickey Modisane: Chief Director Marketing and Communications (Sport), Tel: 082 992 0101 | Email:
Ms Zimasa Velaphi: Chief Director Marketing and Communications (Arts and Culture), Tel: 072 172 8925 | Email:

Ms Masechaba Khumalo: Spokesperson Minister: Sport, Arts and Culture, Tel: 066 380 7408,  Email:

Issued by: Department of Sport, Arts and Culture