Caster Semenya, in a piece published in the Players’ Tribune on Friday, wrote that she is not done fighting for her right to compete in track and field as a woman and called rules to bar her from the International Association of Athletics Federations “bull.”
In May, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled against Semenya in deciding limitations for testosterone in female athletes. Semenya, who was born with a male XY chromosome pattern and thus has a testosterone level higher than most females, has won two Olympic gold medals in the 800-meter race. But the ruling prevents Semenya from participating in certain women’s events such as the 800, unless she takes drugs to suppress her testosterone level.
Semenya has refused, and she is fighting a ruling that she believes is unjust and specifically targeted at her because she has won at the highest level. Semenya wrote:
I do not want to change my body. I do not know what effects that medicine will have on my body for the rest of my life. I know the reason for this is because I am great. If I had high testosterone and wasn’t winning would they even care at all? I know it is a way to have control.
Semenya, 28, wrote that she wanted to be a soldier as a little girl, and that in a similar way, she is fighting. She called out the IAAF for subjecting her to dehumanizing tests when they would not put their own family members through them. When she burst onto the scene in 2009 and won her first gold medal in the IAAF World Championships, Semenya said all she heard was criticism and few congratulations:
“They saw me as science. They wanted to test my body. But you know what I do? I ignore all of them. I do not read such things. I do not hear them.”
There have been rumblings of Semenya leaving her track career behind after the ruling, rumors which only increased when she joined a women’s soccer team in South Africa earlier this month, calling it a “new journey.”
But whether it is soccer or track, Semenya makes clear in her first-person story that she is not going to allow gender-based rules to defeat her.
“I cannot be a hero yet because I am not done,” she wrote to end the piece.
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