International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) treasurer José María Odriozola has weighed into the Caster Semenya row by reportedly describing the South African as “biologically a man”.
The Spaniard, professor of biochemistry, allegedly made the comments in an interview with Sport Magazine as he defended the world governing body regarding their controversial stance on the double Olympic 800 metres champion.
Semenya lost a landmark case against the IAAF at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in May, which means she will have to take medication to reduce her testosterone levels if she wants to continue running on the world stage.
The 28-year-old middle-distance athlete was attempting to block new rules on female participation brought in by the IAAF, who insist they are to create a level playing field.
Three-time world champion Semenya will miss next month’s IAAF World Championships in Qatar because of the verdict.
She initially received permission to compete pending an appeal but this was overturned by the Swiss Supreme Court last month.
The South African has argued that her testosterone levels occur naturally with her supporters including the World Medical Association and the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Odriozola, a former President of the Spanish Athletics Federation, said according to Sport Magazine: “She says that the IAAF goes against her, but the rules are for everyone.”
Odriozola, who is not standing for re-election to the IAAF Council next month, added that Semenya has an “enormous advantage”.
The IAAF’s new rules state that runners with high testosterone levels, who compete between 400m and the mile, must either take medication or compete against men.
Semenya is by far the most high-profile athlete who the rules will impact.
When making its verdict, CAS admitted the rule was “discriminatory” but it also said the policy was “necessary, reasonable and proportionate” to protect the fairness of women’s sport.
Earlier in the year legendary Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva backed the IAAF’s stance, stating that all competitors should follow the same rules.
The two-time Olympic champion stressed that the IAAF which introduced the new testosterone rule was pursuing a goal to provide equal opportunities for all athletes and ensure equal competition.
“The IAAF decided to implement a new rule establishing a strict testosterone limit for female athletes. Those with elevated testosterone will be prohibited from taking part in international events. The rules should be applied to everyone, there should be no exceptions.
“I think that all athletes should have equal conditions to train and compete. And what is more important, everyone should obey the rules outlined by WADA and IAAF. There should be no exceptions or concessions, otherwise we cannot talk about fair competition,” she said.
The multiple world record holder stressed that the newly-implemented rule should be obligatory for all athletes, including those with biological irregularities, which is the case with the Semenya.
“Girls with lower testosterone level have minimal chances to win. That’s why rules implemented by the IAAF should be applied to everyone, including athletes with biological specifics. There should be no complaints, if such athletes want to compete against women they should be obliged to reduce testosterone level. No one infringes on their rights to take part in athletics events, but they should understand they have a colossal advantage,” Isinbayeva said.
Semenya has previously complained about her lack of support from female athletes. (Insidethegames/RT)