Classification of Sport – Semenya

Senior Associate, Harriet Leach and Associate, Jamie Ptaszynski provide an update on our recent note “Banned for Being Yourself.”

CAS has dismissed the legal challenge from Caster Semenya concerning IAAF’s proposed DSD Regulations governing athletes’ eligibility to participate in certain restricted “female” events.

Whilst the decision seemingly leaves it open for international federations, governing bodies and regulators to set their own rules and regulations for gender classification, key lessons from Semenya should be considered and kept under review.  These are set out in full in our note but in summary include:

  • Should participants be divided by gender or biological attributes and if so how?
  • Is division required at all levels of the sport or just elite competition?
  • Are the reasons “necessary, proportionate and legitimate”?
  • What happens if an athlete cannot fulfil the governing criteria of their preferred event?
  • What is the risk profile, including challenge on discriminatory and human rights grounds?

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