Athletics

Semenya invited to compete in Rabat after initially being denied entry

Dapo Sotuminu, with agency report
Rabat race organisers have given Caster Semenya the green light to compete on Sunday after initially snubbing the South African.

CASTER SEMENYA HAS been invited to compete in the Diamond League meeting in Rabat this weekend after initially being denied entry.

Semenya was again cleared to compete without restriction on Thursday when the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland (SFT) rejected an IAAF request to reimpose a new ruling limiting testosterone in female athletes.

The double Olympic 800 metres champion is challenging the IAAF’s decision to introduce restrictions on testosterone levels in women competing at distances ranging from 400m to a mile.

Semenya should be free to run while she awaits an SFT verdict on her case, but was told on Tuesday that the president of the Moroccan Athletics Federation would not permit her to compete in Rabat on Sunday.

Race organisers backtracked after taking note of the SFT’s refusal to reimpose the IAAF ruling.

A statement released by race organisers on Friday said: “After checking the situation of Caster Semenya in view of the decisions of the Swiss Federal Court, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the head of the sports centre and sports organisation of the international athletics meeting in Rabat, Mr. Alain Blondel, is happy to confirm her invitation to participate in the 800m race of the said meeting on Sunday 16 June 2019.”

Semenya is also hoping to run in the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting in California on 30 June.

Double Olympic champion Semenya said on Thursday she had been denied entry into the event in Rabat in apparent violation of a ruling from Switzerland’s high court which has temporarily lifted regulations that would require her to take medication to lower her testosterone levels in order to be allowed to race certain distances.

Speaking to Reuters, her agent Jukka Harkonen said the lateness of the invitation made it impossible for Semenya to travel to Rabat in time for the race, because it was a journey of more than 20 hours from her home country South Africa.

“She’s not running,” he said. “She was invited today but that was too late.”

Semenya became the centre of heated international debate after a controversial ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The CAS ruled that International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) regulations to limit naturally-occurring testosterone in female athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs), such as Semenya, were needed to ensure fair competition between runners in events ranging from 400 metres to a mile.

The Swiss Federal Tribunal later ordered the IAAF to immediately suspend implementation of the regulations on Semenya, allowing her to compete without restriction, while she appealed against the decision.

On Thursday, Semenya said the tribunal had rejected an IAAF request to reimpose the rules but she had nevertheless had a request to race in the Rabat event denied by the Royal Moroccan Athletics Federation, with no reasons being given.

The IAAF said it had no say in who competed in Diamond League events such as the one in Rabat, to which athletes were invited by the organisers. The BBC reported on Friday that the organiser of the Rabat meeting, Alain Blondel, said Semenya had been invited.

 

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