Documents reveal new details in bitter Semenya-IAAF battle

Caster Semenya was accused by the IAAF of intentionally running slowly at times to mask her alleged advantage from elevated natural testosterone, according to recently released court documents.

Semenya angrily denied the accusation.

The exchange was included in 163 pages of court records from the South African runner’s appeal of the international track body’s testosterone rules at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in February. They were released in redacted form four months after the hearing after both parties agreed.

In the documents, the two-time Olympic 800-meter champion also described her “atrocious and humiliating” treatment before and after her first world championships in 2009. Just 18 at the time, she was subjected to two intrusive “gender-verification” tests without her consent, she said.

A gynecologist said the IAAF then pushed for the young Semenya to have surgery to cut off her testosterone. The gynecologist pushed back against the IAAF. Semenya reluctantly agreed to take hormone-suppressing drugs.

More details from the court documents:

• In witness statements, Semenya described extensively for the first time her experiences around the worlds, her first major championships, in Berlin a decade ago.

She said South Africa’s track federation sent a gynecologist to perform tests that included an examination of her genitals and taking blood samples without telling her what they were for. After she won the world 800 title, the IAAF conducted more tests on the then-teenager at a German hospital. It was “an order by the IAAF” and she was given no choice, Semenya said.

It didn’t stop there. Semenya agreed in 2010 to take hormone-suppressing pills but only after the IAAF said she could only compete if she medically reduced her natural testosterone. Semenya was put on medication the year before the IAAF first introduced highly contentious testosterone regulations. She was still a teenager.

Greta Dreyer, a South African gynecologist treating Semenya, testified the IAAF “made it clear” at the outset that its “preferred treatment” was surgery. Dreyer said she resisted.

• Semenya took the pills for five years from 2010-15 and said they caused a myriad of unwanted side effects: weight gain, fevers, a constant feeling of nausea and abdominal pain, all of which she experienced while running at the 2011 world championships and 2012 Olympics.

• The IAAF waited until the closed-doors hearing at sport’s highest court in Switzerland to argue Semenya and other athletes with certain “differences of sex development” (DSD) conditions were “biologically male.” Now 28, Semenya was born with the typical male XY chromosome pattern and a condition that results in male and female biological characteristics and testosterone higher than the typical female range. She was legally identified as female at birth and has identified as female her whole life.

She called the IAAF’s “biologically male” assertion “deeply hurtful.”

• Stephane Bermon, head of the IAAF’s medical and science department, revealed some of the thinking behind the IAAF’s decision to apply the testosterone limits to some events and not to others. The IAAF explanation: It targeted the events where 46 XY DSD athletes like Semenya were prominent. Bermon said other events would have testosterone limits applied to them if six to eight athletes with a 46 XY DSD condition competed in the event for three to five years.

Gerald Imray is an Associated Press writer.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Documents-reveal-new-details-in-bitter-14031076.php.

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