( New York, N.Y. ) Today, in a divided 2-1 opinion, the international Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a proposed rule by the International Association of Athletics Federation ( IAAF ) forcing women with high levels of testosterone to take suppressants in order to compete in some women's races.
The case was brought by South African runner Caster Semenya, who challenged the proposed restriction.
The opinion found that the proposed rule is "discriminatory," but that "such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF's aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics." The opinion also "expressed some serious concerns as to the future practical application" of the proposed rule, including: difficulties of implementing it and the likelihood of "unintentional noncompliance"; the lack of "concrete evidence of actual ( in contrast to theoretical ) significant athletic advantage" by women with elevated testosterone; and the side effects of hormone suppressing treatments.
Statement by NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter:
"Today's divided opinion by the Court of Sports Arbitration is cruel, unprincipled, and riddled with internal contradictions. The court acknowledges that the International Association of Athletics Federation rule requiring Caster Semenya to alter her body in order to compete is discriminatory, will be difficult if not impossible to administer, and may subject Caster to dangerous side effectsand yet the court has allowed this shameful rule to stand. Caster is a woman and has earned her success. There is no justification for this intrusive and unworkable policy, which targets Caster based on racist and sexist stereotypes about how women "should" look and behave. The history of women's sports is riddled with similar attempts to scrutinize women's bodies and force them into sexist molds, and women of color, in particular, have borne the brunt of those failed efforts. We applaud Caster for her courage in fighting this injustice, and we join millions of other advocates across the globe in calling on the International Association of Athletics Federation to abandon this discriminatory rule."
—From a National Center for Lesbian Rights press release
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org