Minister of Sport and Recreation Ms Tokozile Xasa Speaks on the matter of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) hyperandrogenism regulations


15 February 2019

Tshwane – South African government has come out strong and added its voice in condemnation of proposed IAAF Regulations targeted at compelling female athletes with hyperandrogenism to reluctantly undergo unnatural medical process that will reduce their naturally produced testosterone.  

As a matter of principle because South Africa is a country that respect and promote human rights and also in support of an application lodged by Athletic South Africa (ASA) at the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) challenging the IAAF regulations because they appear to be specifically targeting Caster Semenya.

Background information:In 2011, the IAAF introduced rules and regulations governing eligibility of females with hyperandrogenism to compete in women competition. Hyperandrogenism is a medical condition characterized by excessive androgen (male hormones such as testosterone) in a female body.

This was informed by their view that “IAAF divides competition into male and female classifications because male athletes have clear performance advantages in terms of size, strength and power” and these advantages “are due mainly to the fact that, starting from puberty, [men] produce 10-30 times more testosterone than women”.

IAAF’s position was and is that testosterone is the key distinguishing factor between male and female performance, and therefore hyperandrogenic female athletes have an unfair advantage.

The discriminatory effects of these Regulations were seen in 2014 when Duntee Chand, an Indian female sprinter was suspended from international competition after hormone testing reportedly revealed that her body produced excessive natural levels of testosterone.

She successfully challenged these Regulations at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CSA) which subsequently were set aside, allowing her to continue to compete and IAAF was given two years to bring an undisputable scientific evidence that will confirm their hypothesis of causality between female testosterone levels and their performance as athletes.

In 2018 IAAF returned with new Regulations which were more prescriptive and coercive because they require females with natural levels of testosterone above 5nmol/L (nanomole per liter) must medically reduce their blood testosterone to below 5nmol/L six months before competition and continuously thereafter in order to be eligible to compete in the women’s category.

Moreover, their application was restricted to events of 400m to mile, including 400m, hurdle races, 800m, 1500m, one-mile races, and combined events over the same distance, perpetuating and confirming suspicion that they are targeted at Caster Semenya.

The new 2018 IAAF Regulations have also drawn criticism from organizations and individuals in various sectors including human rights, medical science, sport and sports law, and have been characterized as discriminatory and violates basic and international human rights, including a right to physical and bodily integrity.

Some have condemned them as coercive as they are compelling female athletes with hyperandrogenism to reluctantly undergo unnatural medical process that will reduce their naturally produced testosterone.  

South African government has also added its voice in condemnation of these Regulations mainly as a matter of principle because it is a country that respect and promote human rights and also in support of an application lodged by Athletic South Africa (ASA) at the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) challenging these regulations because they appear to be specifically targeting Caster Semenya. Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa under the leadership of Minister Tokozile Xasa had since writing to various bodies and sport sector in general in lobbying for support in condemnation of IAAF position and the current developments by the IMF to promulgate new gender regulations targeting female athletes.  

In its request for lobbying and in a letter written by the DepartmentofSportandRecreationSouthAfrica (SRSA), the Department stated that it hasnotedwithconcern, the matter of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) hyperandrogenism regulations. In 2011, IMF Introduced new regulations for testosteronelimitforfemaleathletes,butthiswassuspendedbytheCourtofArbitration for Sport (CSA) in 2015 after an appeal by Indian athlete Ms Dutee Chand.  

The CSA gave IAAF two years to bring a scientific justification for the rule and In 2017 the athletics bodyproducedresearchtosupportimplementationoftheplannedregulations.
The current developments by the IMF are to create and promulgate new gender regulations targeting female athletes, amongst others are a problem as they look primarily applicable only to400m,800mand1500mcategories wherein our country leading athlete Ms Caster Semenyadominates. Thenewregulationshavesinceattractedcriticismlocally andglobally,includingfrom organisations and individuals in the sport and human rights fraternity who In essence condemnedtheseregulationsasdiscriminationagainstwomenonthebasisoftheirsex and their sex characteristics.

Some of the organisations in condemnation of this IAAF new gender regulation targeting female athletes include Women's Sport Foundation which has characterised regulationsasexacerbatingdiscriminationagainstwomeninsportwhoareperceived asnotprescribingto innovativeideasaboutfemininity'.Additional to dignity and human rights violations, the report released by IAAF has also beenchallengedonmethodologicalandscientificbasis.AndrewGelman,aprofessorof Statistics at Cotumbia University described the analysis of the IAAF report as "such a mess that he can't figure out of what data they worked with or even the connection between their analysis and scientificgoals".

In support of calls for condemnation of IAAF new gender regulation targeting female athletes, Minister Tokozile Xasa MP, stated the following:
“Our Country has a well-developed Constitution and a proud human rights culture and therefore, our beliefs and human rights philosophy directs us to encouragefulIaccessforalltoparticipate andcompeteateverylevelofoursport,free of discrimination.Henceforth, I have mandated the Director-General (Alec Moemi) of my department of Sport and Recreation South Africa to establish and chair a High-Level Panel constituted of Government, Medical experts on the subject matter inclusive of Academics, Legal experts on InternationalSportLawandMembersofInternationalBodiesrelevant to thistopic. I have further indicated to him that their mandate must be toinvestigate, analyse and consider the current developments as contained in the IAAF's new gender regulations targeting female athletes with Differences of Sexual Development. Most Importantly the panel must investigate, analyse and consider the implications of the new gender regulations to all affected athletesanddevelopstrategiesonchallengingthenewregulations inclusive of draftingofproposalstoamendsuch discriminatory genderregulationsaswell,ifnecessary”, Stated Minister Tokozile Xasa MP.

To this end, an appeal has since been lodged by Athletics South Africa (ASA} and supported by the Department of Sport and Recreation at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).  The case is scheduledtositinduecourse,andgovernmenthasresolvedtoembarkonacampaign toraisepublicawarenessandmobilisesupportlocallyandglobally againsttheinjustice thatwillbemetedbytheseregulations.

In Mobilising for global support, the Minister of Sport and Recreation South Africa Minister Tokozile Xasa MP, has also written a formal letter to the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Minister Lindiwe Sisulu requesting her and her department to assist by engaging through diplomatic channels, all foreignrepresentativesinSouthAfricaand at all ourmissionsabroad Inlobbyingsupportandcondemnationoftheseregulationsleadingtothehearingatthe CourtofArbitration for Sport (CAS).
#NaturallySuperior
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Mr. Mickey Modisane
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Mr Vuyo Mhaga
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012 304 5239
076 636 5193
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