NEWS
16/07/2018 06:40 SAST | Updated 16/07/2018 06:40 SAST

Leading Scientists Rubbish IAAF Report, Giving Caster's Court Case A Boost

Three leading scientists reportedly say a report relied on by the IAAF to rule that intersex athletes must medically lower their testosterone levels is full of inaccuracies.

Athletics - Diamond League - Pontaise Stadium, Lausanne, Switzerland - July 5, 2018   South Africa's Caster Semenya in action during the Women's 1500m   REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Denis Balibouse / Reuters
Athletics - Diamond League - Pontaise Stadium, Lausanne, Switzerland - July 5, 2018 South Africa's Caster Semenya in action during the Women's 1500m REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Caster Semenya's case against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has been bolstered by the opinion of three leading sports scientists, who say a report relied on by the IAAF that intersex athletes must lower their testosterone levels to compete, is scientifically wrong.

According to Times Select, South African sports scientist Ross Tucker from the University of Cape Town, Norwegian sports doping expert Dr Erik Boye and the director of Sports Governance Centre at the University of Colorado, Dr Roger Pielke, have all rubbished the report. They have reportedly asked the British Journal of Sports Medicine to retract the study.

As of November, intersex athletes running the 400 metres to one-mile events must lower their testosterone levels to twice that of 99% of all female athletes. The IAAF reportedly relied on the study, commissioned by the sports federation in 2017, to set this new rule.

The study reportedly shows that athletes with a very high testosterone level have a 5% advantage in five track events. This was reportedly based on analyses of female athletes' testosterone levels and race times at the World Athletics Championships in 2011 and 2013.

Tucker told Times Select:

"If I were Semenya, this would embolden me. It undermines the credibility of the foundation of the IAAF policy. I would let go of all the other emotive, non-scientific issues in this case, and I would realise that I can win the (court) case on the basis of science alone."

The three scientists reportedly asked to see the data behind the study but were only given a fraction of it, and it was riddled with flaws.

Glaring inaccuracies were present, they reportedly said, including the double counting of some athletes' race times and the inclusion of the times of Russian athletes caught doping who had been disqualified.

At least 33% of the numbers were wrong, Pielke reportedly estimated.

The scientists have asked for the report to be retracted.

According to Sport24, Semenya will approach the Court of Arbitration for sport in Lausanne, Switzerland to challenge the new IAAF regulation. She has reportedly called the new rule medically unnecessary, "discriminatory, irrational, unjustifiable".

The New York Times reported that Semenya said, "I am very upset that I have been pushed into the public spotlight again. I don't like talking about this new rule," she said. "I just want to run naturally, the way I was born. It is not fair that I am told I must change. It is not fair that people question who I am."

Athletics South Africa (ASA) will also appeal the IAAF's new regulation, Sport24 reported. The ASA reportedly said it "has a duty to protect all its athletes", as a member of the IAAF.

Earlier this month, Semenya broke her own South African record in the 800 metres at the IAAF diamond league in Paris. On Friday, she set a new South African record in the 1000 metres at the Rabat Diamond League in Morocco, IOL reported, coming just short of the world record set by Russian Svetlana Masterkova in 1996.