The new regulations of the International Association of Athletics Federations, IAAF, will not come into effect as planned from November 1 2018 until the Court of Arbitration for Sport, CAS, will pass judgment on the appeal case brought to them by South African Olympic Champion, Caster Semenya. The new regulations required female athletes to maintain their blood testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L for a period of at least six months.

The athletics governing body has agreed to push the set date to March 26, 2019 awaiting the outcome of the Semenya case verdict. The new date is exactly six months and just two days before the kickoff of the 2019 world championships in Doha, Qatar.

According to the IAAF, the new Eligibility Regulations will apply in “400m, hurdles races, 800m, 1500m, one mile races and combined events over the same distances.”

The normal levels of testosterone circulating naturally in most females including athletes is 0.12 to 1.79 nmol/L while that of a normal male after puberty is 7.7 – 29.4 nmol/L. According to IAAF, except for athletes with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD), no female will have natural testosterone at 5 nmol/L or above. Some may even have it extending to or beyond the range for men.

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Sebastian Coe, IAAF President said the federation has as responsibility to ensure a level playing ground for all athletes. “We want athletes to be incentivised to make the huge commitment and sacrifice required to excel in the sport, and to inspire new generations to join the sport and aspire to the same excellence,” he said.

The rules were challenged by Semenya and the Athletics South Africa, ASA in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, CAS. The IAAF President has confirmed that Semenya and ASA have all agreed on the delay in order to wait for the verdict of CAS.

We have agreed not to enforce the regulations against any athlete until the contested regulations are upheld,” he said.

In exchange, they have agreed not to prolong the process. All athletes need this situation resolved as soon as possible,” he added.

The IAAF in a statement however remains confident that the decision of the court will be at their favor, hence the challenges will be rejected by CAS. As for ASA, they are pleased with the decision that they think will be “effectively suspended pending the outcome of the appeal”.

If the regulation is put in place, it could see Caster Semenya and other athletes with high natural testosterone levels miss most of the 2019 outdoor season.

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Caster Semenya is a three-time world champion and two-time Olympic champion. She was previously obliged to undertake a gender test by athletics chiefs. Since then, no official results have come out. “It is not fair. I just want to run naturally, the way I was born,” she said.

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