'Hell no': Caster Semenya will not take testosterone medication

South African runner says she will not take testosterone-lowering medication to comply with new athletics rules.

    Semenya easily won the gold in the women's 800 metre final during the event in Doha [Kamran Jebreili/AP Photo]
    Semenya easily won the gold in the women's 800 metre final during the event in Doha [Kamran Jebreili/AP Photo]

    Double Olympic champion Caster Semenya has said she will not take medication to reduce her testosterone levels to comply with new rules.

    The South African won what could be her last competitive 800 metres race at the Diamond League meeting in Doha on Friday.

    New rules by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) regulating testosterone levels in female "athletes with differences of sex development" (DSD) could keep her from competing again.

    The Doha meet was the last women's event before the rules take effect on May 8. If Semenya wishes to continue to compete in events from 400 metres to a mile then she will have to take medication to reduce her testosterone levels.

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    After the race, when asked if she would take testosterone-limiting medication, Semenya told Al Jazeera: "Hell no."

    "I'll always run 800 metres …The 800 metres is my calling, I believe in it. I can't be forced to switch races, I'll switch when I want to switch races. No man can tell me what to do."

    The South African was running two days after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejected her appeal to get the IAAF's new regulations thrown out.

    Semenya's legal team said it was considering appealing that ruling.

    The runner said she would return to Doha in September to compete in the 800m at the world championships, although as the rules stand now she would not be able to do that without taking testosterone-reducing medication.

    "Yes of course ... I will be here defending the world title," she said, 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."

    She easily won her 30th successive race over the distance in one minute 54.98 seconds, nearly three seconds ahead of Burundi's Francine Niyonsaba.

    Reporting from Doha, Al Jazeera's Andy Richardson said the victory was a "powerful and poetic response" to the court ruling and that Semenya's refusal to take medication could set up a showdown with the sport's governing body.

    "It appears to put her on a direct collision course with world athletics and the IAAF head Sebastian Coe. He believes the ruling is fair, he says 'it is not about defining gender, it is about ensuring fairness in sport.'"

    CAS's panel of three judges said the proposed rules on athletes with DSD are discriminatory but needed. 

    The judges ruled 2-1 that "on the basis of the evidence submitted by the parties, such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF's aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics in the Restricted Events".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies