PARLIAMENT, February 28 – The South African Medical Association (Sama) on Thursday threw its weight behind double Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya, urging the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to change its stance.
“We support Ms Semenya in this legal battle and look forward to a successful outcome for her. We urge the IAAF to reconsider their stance on this issue and to rely on better and more extensive research emanating from the world’s greater medical community,” said Sama chairwoman Angelique Coetzee in a statement.
Sama believed the science used by the IAAF to prop up its proposal to restrict female athletes’ testosterone levels competing in events between 400m and a mile was flawed.
“We are concerned that the arguments by the IAAF for regulating testosterone levels in such athletes are most likely based on a single, flawed study in which reporters were highly conflicted,” said Coetzee.
“SAMA urges medical scientists and doctors involved in the IAAF’s medical procedures and tests to pay due regard to scientific rigour, evidence-based practice and medical ethics. Until sound scientific evidence is generated, SAMA dismisses such flawed arguments.”
Testosterone is a hormone that increases muscle mass, strength and haemoglobin, which affects endurance.
Semenya has a condition called hyperandrogenism which means her testosterone levels are naturally elevated. If the IAAF gets its way Semenya would be required to take medication to reduce her testosterone levels.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is set to deliver its ruling on Semenya’s appeal of the IAAF proposal on March 26. (ANA)