June 23, 2018 / 3:14 PM / 10 months ago

Athletics: South Africa appeals over female classification rules

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Athletics South Africa (ASA) have lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to halt the implementation of new female classification rules by the governing body of athletics (IAAF), the organisation confirmed on Saturday.

It follows a similar challenge by South Africa’s double Olympic 800 metres champion Caster Semenya, who opposes new rules from the IAAF, requiring her to take medication to lower her higher than normal natural levels of testosterone.

The president of ASA, Aleck Skhosana is also set to meet with his IAAF counterpart Sebastian Coe “in the coming week” to discuss the new regulations, the South African body revealed.

“As a loyal member federation of the IAAF, ASA has a duty to protect all its athletes, including female athletes who may fall foul of these regulations,” ASA said in a statement.

“ASA has engaged with the IAAF directly since May 10, 2018 declaring its intention to oppose the implementation of the regulations.”

ASA added that their challenge is supported by the South African government and the country’s Olympic committee and they have called for the immediate suspension of the implementation of the regulations until both appeals have been ruled on.

“ASA has also applied for the implementation of the regulations to be suspended pending the outcome of the CAS arbitration on the basis that there are prospects of success in the arbitration, and irreparable prejudice and harm will result if the regulations are implemented with effect from Nov. 1, 2018, and the balance of interests favours affected female athletes,” the statement continued.

ASA added they would instruct their legal and medical teams to also support the appeal of Semenya.

The IAAF said the regulations are based on peer-reviewed studies and observation by scientists which showed that females with above-normal or male equivalent levels of testosterone had up to a 12 percent performance advantage over fellow female athletes.

The IAAF also said they were ready to defend the new regulations at the court.

Testosterone is a hormone that increases muscle mass, strength and haemoglobin, which affects endurance. The IAAF rule is not directly aimed at Semenya but she will be most affected by it.

Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Ian Chadband

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