Caster Semenya, Hero in South Africa, Fights Hormone Testing on a Global Stage

The South African runner Caster Semenya, a two-time Olympian and a movie star in worldwide sports activities, has spent years difficult proposed limits on feminine athletes.

She has been fiercely defended and lauded in South Africa, and was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga, a recognition of great achievement, by President Jacob Zuma in 2014.

The proclamation stated she was “one of the most well-loved daughters of the soil who won hearts of many by making running look like poetry in motion.”

[A ruling by the best court docket in sports activities was a defeat for Caster Semenya.]

But on Wednesday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the best court docket in worldwide sports activities, dominated that feminine athletes who, like Semenya, have elevated ranges of testosterone should take hormone suppressants to compete in sure races. Here’s a have a look at the runner who’s on the heart of the controversy over intercourse testing in sports activities.

Semenya was simply 18 when she received gold in the 800-meter race on the 2009 world observe and discipline championships in Berlin. But as she celebrated, she confronted questions over her gender. She was barred from competitors and subjected to sex tests at the request of the International Association of Athletics Federations, track and field’s world governing body. South African officials and others condemned the tests as racist and sexist, and the organization’s handling of the matter was widely criticized.

Semenya has always maintained that she is a woman and should be able to compete as one without hormone suppressants or any other body-altering measures.

“God made me the way I am, and I accept myself,” Semenya told You, a South African magazine, in 2009. “I am who I am, and I’m proud of myself.”

The government proclamation celebrated her remaining “poised and dignified” during the controversy. In September 2010, the British magazine New Statesman included Semenya in its annual list of “50 People That Matter,” writing that she was “an inspiration to gender campaigners around the world.”

Semenya carried South Africa’s flag in the 2012 Olympics, and won a silver medal in the 800 meters. Three years later, the Russian athlete who had taken the gold that year was disqualified for doping, and Semenya’s medal was upgraded. In 2016, she won her second Olympic gold in the 800 meters in Rio de Janeiro, amid continued questions about her testosterone levels.

Semenya’s lawyers said that they might appeal, arguing that “her unique genetic gift should be celebrated, not regulated.”

In a statement, Semenya said: “I know that the I.A.A.F.’s regulations have always targeted me specifically. For a decade the I.A.A.F. has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of the C.A.S. will not hold me back. I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world.”

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