Athletics SA: IAAF using underhand tactics to win public support in Caster Semenya case

Caster Semenya and Athletics South Africa say that the IAAF are in “clear violation” of a confidentiality undertaking made to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) not to release details of expert witnesses and their views on topics that will be discussed in her hearing in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Semenya arrived at the CAS headquarters on Monday, flanked by her lawyer Gregory Nott, while Advocate Norman Arendse is heading up Athletics SA’s legal team.

Semenya, the 800m Olympic and world champion, is contesting the IAAF’s new regulations that state female athletes – who compete in distances from 400m to the mile – with high testosterone levels must have it lowered with medication to continue competing.

“The arbitration proceedings are subject to strict confidentiality provisions and this information should not have been released. Ms Semenya believes the IAAF press release is a clear breach of the confidentiality provisions that was orchestrated in an effort to influence public opinion in circumstances where the IAAF knew that Ms Semenya would not be prepared to respond because she was complying with her confidentiality obligations,” her lawyers said in a statement.

“As a matter of fairness, Ms Semenya raised this issue with the CAS, and has been granted permission to publicly release information responding to the IAAF press release, including disclosing the experts who are testifying in support of Ms Semenya’s case. This information will be released tomorrow.”

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Caster Semenya and her legal team believe the IAAF have breached the confidentiality agreement with regards to her case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Photo: Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP

ASA added: “Athletics South Africa notes with great dismay and disappointment that… IAAF has during the course of the proceedings this morning released the names and backgrounds of their expert witnesses, and provided a brief expose of their views of the topics to be covered by them in the current proceedings at the Court of Arbitration (CAS).

“This is in clear violation of the confidentiality undertaking made to CAS and in ASA’s view, these amounts to underhand tactics to try and win support for their views in the court of public opinion.

“Both ASA and Caster Semenya raised their objections before the CAS panel this morning, and the CAS panel directed that ASA and Semenya may issue a Press Statement similar to the one issued by the IAAF.”

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Olympic and world 800m champion Caster Semenya is greeted by Advocate Norman Arendse at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland on Monday. Photo: Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP

The IAAF said earlier on Monday that the female category in sport is a “protected category”, and they believe that the way in which they define female athletes will see them win the case against Semenya.

“The female category in sport is a protected category. For it to serve its purposes, which include providing females opportunities equal to males, it must have eligibility standards that ensure that athletes who identify as female but have testes, and testosterone levels in the male range, at least drop their testosterone levels into the female range in order to compete at the elite level in the female classification.

“This standard is necessary to ensure fair competition for all women.

“Indeed, without it, we risk losing the next generation of female athletes, since they will see no path to success in our sport.

“The IAAF is confident that the scientific basis by which it has defined the limits of the category – limits which will apply equally to all competitors – will stand up to challenge in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).”

The five experts the IAAF will be utilising are:

* Dr Angelica Lindén Hirschberg is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm,

* David Handelsman is Professor of Reproductive Endocrinology and Andrology, University of Sydney, inaugural Director of the ANZAC Research Institute and head of Andrology Department, Concord Hospital, Sydney, Australia.

* Joanna Harper has worked as a medical physicist for more than 30 years and is also a long time athletics competitor.

* Doriane Lambelet Coleman is a Professor of Law at Duke Law School. She specialises in teaching and scholarship related to culture, women, children, medicine, and law.

* Richard Auchus, MD, PhD is former Professor of Pharmacology and Internal Medicine in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology, and Diabetes and Director of the Endocrinology Fellowship Program at the Medical School of the University of Michigan.

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