News Brief

The IAAF Denies Wanting to Classify Intersex Athlete Caster Semenya as Male

The body says it rejects reports of it wanting the South African intersex athlete to be classified as 'biologically male'.

There have been widely circulated reports that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) wants South African 800m Olympic gold-medalist, Caster Semenya, to be classified as 'biologically male'. The IAAF, however, has emphatically rejected these reports.


It has been an arduous sporting journey for intersex athlete Caster Semenya. Over the years she has received continued backlash from all over the world for winning long-distance races at various large sporting events including the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The cause for the backlash is primarily because people feel that her increased testosterone levels (higher than the average female) give her an unfair advantage over her female counterparts.

Admittedly, the IAAF has failed to do its due diligence in terms of actively participating and curating the conversation around athletes who are intersex. In a world where the biological sciences are showing that unlike the long-held dogma that sex is binary, but instead exists on a spectrum, the athletics body has failed to protect intersex athletes.

The IAAF has further failed to be proactive and progressive in reviewing its regulations with regards to intersex athletes which has ultimately led to this very ugly showdown.

The athletics body claims it only now has proof that increased testosterone, the levels which Semenya exhibits, imbue an unfair advantage performance-wise. Semenya is set to appear at the Court of Arbitration for Sport next week, to argue against having to lower her testosterone levels.

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Photo credit should read SEYLLOU/AFP via Getty Images

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