DOHA – Double Olympic champion Caster Semenya’s future was in doubt on Friday after she said she would not take medication to lower her testosterone levels to comply with new rules for the 800 metres.
There was confusion about how she will be able to compete in her specialist event again, as the 28-year-old South African declared “Hell no!” when asked if she would take testosterone-lowering medication.
At Friday’s Diamond League meeting in Doha, she was adamant she would be back in the Qatari capital in September to defend her 800 metres world title. But how she plans to do that without conforming to the new rules remained unclear.
Semenya easily won the 800 metres event on Friday, the last time she will be able to run that distance before the International Association of Athletics Federations’ testosterone limiting rules come into effect on May 8.
Under the new regulations, female athletes with high natural levels of testosterone wishing to compete in events from 400m to a mile must medically limit that level to under 5 nmol/L, double the normal female range of below 2 nmol/L.
Semenya, who has battled for years against the new rules and was competing two days after losing her appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), also refused to clarify suggestions that she would switch to a new distance that is exempt.
In Wednesday’s ruling, CAS said the regulations were necessary for athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs) to ensure fair competition. Semenya’s legal team said it was considering appealing that ruling.
The case is likely to have far-reaching consequences for women’s sport, and has split opinion around the globe.
“We’re doing it for the next generation. We want to inspire them,” Semenya said.
“I believe in my legal team, they will do their best to get me back on the track.”
However, she said she would return to Doha in September to compete in the 800m at the world championships.
“Yes of course … I will be here defending the world title,” she said, adamantly rejecting suggestions she would quit the sport altogether.
“I’m never going anywhere,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about believing.
“God has decided my career and he will end my career, so no human can stop me from running. I understand there’s been a lot of controversy but that does not control anything.”