IAAF refuses to soften stance on new regulations for female classification

The International Association of Athletics Federations is ready to defend its new rules in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

IAAF refuses to soften stance on new regulations for female classification
Ibrahem Alomari REUTERS

Sebastian Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), said new regulations for female classification will not be soften and are ready to be defended in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Coe’s comments follow a meeting in London with Athletics South Africa (ASA) president Aleck Skhosana in which ASA’s concerns over the new rules were discussed.

According to new rules imposed by the IAAF in April, any female runner must maintain her blood testosterone level below 5 nmol/L if she wants to be eligible to compete in restricted events and international competitions.

The rule, which comes into force on 1 November, applies to women who race in 400m - 1,500m track events.

Earlier this week, ASA had approached CAS in Lausanne, Switzerland, to have the IAAF’s new female eligibility rules suspended.

South African two-time 800m Olympic champion Caster Semenya would be one of the female athletes affected by the new regulations. She faces having to take medication to lower her higher than normal testosterone levels.

No easing of the regulations

According to Coe, there will be no easing of the regulations, as the IAAF believes it’s the fairest solution to tricky challenge facing the sport.

"We need to create competition categories within our sport that ensures that success is determined by talent, dedication and hard work, rather than by other factors that are not considered fair or meaningful, such as the enormous physical advantages that an adult has over a child, or a male athlete has over a female athlete," Coe said.

"We therefore need to come up with a fair solution for intersex/DSD (differences of sexual development) athletes wishing to compete in the female category, which is what the new regulations set out to do, based on the evidence the IAAF has gathered about the degree of performance benefit that such intersex/DSD athletes get from their higher levels of circulating testosterone."

IAAF and ASA to honour Cas’s decision

On Tuesday, Coe and Skhosana met to clarify their positions. After the meeting, both sides announced that Cas is the best body to rule on the dispute.

"The meeting was cordial with both organisations agreeing that the Court of Arbitration for Sport was the right body to arbitrate this matter and its final decision will be respected by both organisations," said a statement by the IAAF.

CAS said an arbitration procedure has been opened and a hearing will be held at a later date.