Olympic 800 metres champion Caster Semenya of South Africa went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday to challenge proposed rules that could force her to lower her testosterone levels.
Semenya made no comment as she arrived at the court in Lausanne for the start of a week-long hearing that could define the rest of the 28-year-old’s career.
The South African government has said the rules set out by track and field’s governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), specifically target Semenya and has called them a “gross violation” of her human rights.
The controversial measures would force so-called “hyperandrogenic” athletes or those with “differences of sexual development” (DSD) to take drugs to lower their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount if they wish to continue competing.
The rules were to have been introduced last November but have been put on hold pending this week’s hearings. A judgement is expected at the end of March.
IAAF President Sebastian Coe, arriving at the court, said: “Today is a very, very important day.
“The regulations that we are introducing are there to protect the sanctity of fair and open competition.”
The chief advocate for Athletics South Africa, Norman Arendse, said Semenya would give evidence.
“The whole week is going to be important. Obviously the evidence will be evaluated and assessed at the end of the process this week. so today this is the start,” he told reporters.
When British newspaper The Times reported last week that the IAAF would argue that Semenya should be classified as a biological male — a claim later denied by the IAAF — she hit back, saying she was “unquestionably a woman”.
In response to the report, the IAAF — stressing it was referring in general terms, not to Semenya in particular — denied it intended to classify any DSD athlete as male.
But in a statement, it added: “If a DSD athlete has testes and male levels of testosterone, they get the same increases in bone and muscle size and strength and increases in haemoglobin that a male gets when they go through puberty, which is what gives men such a performance advantage over women.
“Therefore, to preserve fair competition in the female category, it is necessary to require DSD athletes to reduce their testosterone down to female levels before they compete at international level.”
Semenya is not the only athlete potentially affected — the silver and bronze medallists in the Rio Olympics 800m, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui, have also faced questions about their testosterone levels.
But it is Semenya, who also won Olympic gold in 2012 and has three world titles to her name, who has led opposition to the proposed rules.
Matthieu Reeb, CAS Secretary General, said the case was highly unusual.
“It is unusual and unprecedented because we never had a such a case at CAS,” he said. “What is going to happen I am not able to say, but it is going to be important for sure.”
South Africa’s Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa argues that the rules are “discriminatory”.
“What’s at stake here is far more than the right to participate in a sport. Women’s bodies, their wellbeing, their ability to earn a livelihood, their very identity, their privacy and sense of safety and belonging in the world, are being questioned,” Xasa said on Friday.
On Sunday, tennis great Martina Navratilova threw her weight behind Semenya.
The 18-time Grand Slam singles winner said it was significant that the rules would only apply to female athletes competing in distances from 400m to a mile.
“Leaving out sprints and longer distances seems to me to be a clear case of discrimination by targeting Semenya,” Navratilova wrote in Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper.
“And can it be right to order athletes to take medication? What if the long-term effects proved harmful?… I hope she wins.”
Namibia plans to auction wild animals to raise money for conservation
An agriculture ministry report said 63,700 animals died in 2018 because of deteriorating grazing conditions brought on by dry weather
Namibia has authorised the sale of at least 1,000 wild animals – including elephants and giraffes – to generate $1.1 million for conservation.
“Given that this year is a drought year, the [environment] ministry would like to sell various type of game species from various protected areas to protect grazing and at the same time to also generate much needed funding for parks and wildlife management,” environment ministry spokesman Romeo Muyunda told AFP.
The authorities declared a national disaster last month, and the meteorological services in the country estimate that some parts of the country faced the deadliest drought in as many as 90 years.
“The grazing condition in most of our parks is extremely poor and if we do not reduce the number of animals, this will lead to loss of an animals due to starvation,” Muyunda said.
In April, an agriculture ministry report said 63,700 animals died in 2018 because of deteriorating grazing conditions brought on by dry weather.
Namibia’s cabinet announced this week that the government would sell about 1,000 wild animals.
They include 600 disease-free buffalos, 150 springbok, 65 oryx, 60 giraffes, 35 eland, 28 elephants 20 impala and 16 kudus — all from national parks.
The aim is to raise $1.1 million that will go towards a state-owned Game Products Trust Fund for wildlife conservation and parks management.
The government said there were currently about 960 buffalos in its national parks, 2,000 springbok, 780 oryx and 6,400 elephants.
The auction was advertised in local newspapers from Friday.
Africa’s top scorers ready to slug it out in Group B at the AFCON 2019
Let us run the rule over the Group B hopefuls and assess their prospects in the biennial African football showpiece
The sharpest shooters in 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, Odion Ighalo of Nigeria and Fiston Abdul Razak of Burundi, will come face to face in Group B at the finals this month. While Ighalo and his Super Eagles team-mates are favoured to top the four-nation table and advance to the knockout stage in Egypt, Abdul Razak and the Swallows may struggle.
Burundi are the lowest ranked of the 24 sides at the June 21-July 19 tournament and the best they can be expected to hope for is third place below Nigeria and Guinea and above Madagascar. The countries finishing first and second are guaranteed round-of-16 slots while the best four of the six third-placed teams also qualify.
Let us run the rule over the Group B hopefuls and assess their prospects in the biennial African football showpiece:
The tiny central African country secured a first appearance at the expense of favoured Gabon despite drawing four of six qualifiers.
Algeria-based Abdul Razak starred with six goals at an average of one per match — a total bettered only by Ighalo, who netted seven times. But having tormented the defences of Mali, Gabon and South Sudan, can he wreak more havoc against the Nigerian and Guinean defences?
Olivier Niyungeko, who has succeeded where a string of foreign coaches failed, chose Burundians based in 13 countries and also picked one local, goalkeeper Jonathan Nahimana.
Verdict: an early exit looms
A squad coached by Paul Put hope poor dress rehearsals will be transformed into a grand opening night against Madagascar. Warm-up losses to lower-ranked opponents the Gambia and Benin in Morocco could sow self doubts and there has also been the distraction of injured midfield star Naby Keita.
He injured a thigh playing for Liverpool at Barcelona in the Champions League semifinals and admits to “not yet being fully fit”.
Put, who took outsiders Burkina Faso to the 2013 final, will expect a lot from Ibrahima Traore, a winger based in Germany whose footwork can bewilder even the tightest defences.
Verdict: Quarter-finals a realistic goal
Like Burundi, the Indian Ocean islanders who are making their Cup of Nations debut will eye third place and qualification as one of the four best teams in that position. French coach Nicolas Dupuis has worked wonders with a side that got to Egypt by finishing above Equatorial Guinea and Sudan, and he also coaches a lower-league club in his homeland.
He believes practice makes perfect, saying: “Madagascar used to play three or four matches a year and we’re going nowhere. We now make full use of every international window.” Dupuis has also convinced France-born Thomas Fontaine, Romain Metanire, Jerome Mombris and Jeremy Morel to represent a country they are linked to through parents or grandparents.
Verdict: reaching second round would complete a fairytale
The three-time champions are back at the Cup of Nations after unexpectedly lifting the trophy in 2013 and then failing to qualify for the next two editions. They should take advantage of a kind draw and cruise into the second round, but Nigerian supporters will expect much more from a team coached by experienced German Gernot Rohr.
When the Cup of Nations was last staged by Egypt in 2006, the Super Eagles finished third behind the host nation and the Ivory Coast. Apart from former Watford forward Ighalo, Spain-based Samuel Chukwueze could be a major threat having scored regularly for Villarreal in La Liga last season.
Verdict: Anything less than a semi-final place will be considered failure
Ramaphosa under investigation over graft allegations in South Africa
Cyril Ramaphosa is under investigation by the country’s anti-corruption watchdog
The South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is under investigation by the country’s anti-corruption watchdog over a 500,000 Rand donation to his campaign fund from a company facing extensive graft allegations, the presidency said Wednesday. Ramaphosa, who was re-elected last month, has staked his reputation on fighting corruption in South Africa.
But his party has continued to face wide-ranging corruption claims against senior figures and even the president himself. The inquiry against him centres on opposition complaints about a payment from Bosasa, a company that corruptly won huge government tenders under Zuma’s tenure.
According to the South African presidency, the country’s ombudswoman Busisiwe Mkhwebane has issued Ramaphosa with a notice to respond to allegations that he violated the executive ethics code. “It is served on an individual when they are implicated in an adverse or detrimental manner in a current investigation,” the president’s spokeswoman Khusela Diko said.
Ramaphosa has told parliament that the payment in October 2017 was to his son Andile for consultancy work for Bosasa, which was renamed African Global Operations. But he later said it was a donation towards his own campaign to become a leader of the ruling ANC party, a hard-fought battle in which he beat Zuma’s chosen candidate.
Ramaphosa, who is under investigation and promised to pay back the campaign funds, has until 21 June to respond to Mkhwebane. Diko said the President will be allowed to question the complainant, leader of the official opposition Mmusi Maimane and other witnesses.
The ANC, which has ruled since the end of apartheid, battled numerous corruption scandals under Zuma. Recent years have also seen the country struggle with sluggish economic growth, record unemployment levels creeping towards 30 per cent, poor service delivery and poverty.
Energy firm plans to invest $25 billion in Mozambique gas project
Africa in 60 – June 18, 2019
Internet blackout hits cities in Ethiopia
Cameroon warns rivals ahead of AFCON group stage
Enyimba crowned NPFL champions
Voters in Malawi go to the polls in ‘unpredictable’ race
Gabon’s president sacks vice president and forestry minister
AFCON 2019 mascot unveiled as “Tut”
Nigeria’s economic growth cools in Q1, Pound rattled by political risk
Facebook clamps down on fake accounts
Africa in 60 – June 18, 2019
Enyimba crowned NPFL champions
Africa in 60 – June 17, 2019
The Big 5 Review: June 14 – 16, 2019
World Blood Donor Day with Nigeria’s Lifebank
Lifestyle News & Gists4 months ago
Five killed in South Africa coal mine blast, others trapped
Feature Stories & News1 month ago
Egypt’s new Ramadan series-streaming app scrutinised by critics
Op-Ed5 months ago
What are the critical issues facing Africa in 2019?
Top Story5 months ago
Spotting fake news: Which is the real video of VP Osinbajo’s chopper incident?
Op-Ed5 months ago
What Brexit means for Africa
Culture & Tourism6 months ago
The market in Togo where money doesn’t change hands
Top Story2 months ago
Boat capsize: DR Congo declares national mourning over 13 dead, 114 missing
Politics5 months ago
No pay, no news. Guinea Bissau’s journalists go on strike