Caster Semenya: ‘Testosterone case against IAAF has ‘destroyed’ me ‘mentally and physically’

Caster Semenya says her long-running case over testosterone levels in female athletes has “destroyed” her “mentally and physically”.

The South African athlete claimed she has been “crucified”, but will “never stop fighting” against IAAF rules governing testosterone levels in female athletes.

The 800m world and Olympic champion said she will not race at the World Championships if she loses her appeal.

She again won the 800m in Sunday’s Diamond League meet in California.

She said: “If I’m not running 800m, I’m not running in the world championships.

“My goals are to defend my world title. So if I’m not allowed I’m not allowed.”

She added: “No 1500m, no nothing. I’m just going to take a vacation and then come back next year.”

Where is Semenya’s case up to?

Semenya is challenging the International Association of Athletics Federations’ new rules that she and other athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) must either take testosterone-reducing medication in order to compete in track events from 400m to the mile or change to another distance.

She can race while she appeals and she won the 800m in California in one minute 55.69 seconds, nearly three seconds quicker than second-placed Ajee Wilson of the US.

It was the fastest 800m run by a woman on US soil and the twice Olympic champion has now not been beaten in the 800m since September 2015.

‘I’ve been crucified’ – Semenya speaks out

In an interview with BBC Sport’s Ade Adedoyin in California after Sunday’s race, Semenya told BBC Sport: “We are talking about human rights. We are talking about people being freed. People living their lives for who they are. It’s wrong to judge people. Its wrong to discriminate people and also to divide people.

“We are all human. It doesn’t matter what differences that we have in our bodies. At the end of the day, sport unites people and it speaks to the youth in a language they understand.”

Semenya said the impact of the long-running case “destroys [her] mentally and physically”, adding: “Why do you have to drug someone? So you want them to fit in. There is nothing like that in life.

“And then you feel like you are not welcome. We are not raised the same. Some of the athletes are not like me. They cannot fight these battles.

“It’s very simple here, when you introduced sports, you never said people with differences, cannot run with other people. You do not say we categorise men because they have got long legs, they have got long arms. They have those long strides. Others are short. You don’t categorise them like that. You categorise them as women and men.

“So those are the things that people should take in consideration because when you are born you are identified as women or men. Nothing else. If you are going to talk about medical terms, that’s what complicate things.”

“I cannot say I’ve been victimised. I think I set an example. I think I’m in this world for a reason. I think I am a living testimony. I would say I’m a saviour.

“If you read the Bible you will understand what I’m talking about. If I may compare my life, I would compare my life with Jesus. I’ve been crucified, I’ve been done bad. I’ve been called by names. I’ve been called by this and that.

“But at the end of the day I’m still here, am still alive. I am still standing. What I can do best is just to go back there, fight for those who cannot fight for themselves and fight for their right.”

‘Don’t make the mistakes I did’

It has been widely reported that Semenya had hormone treatment in 2009-2010 after becoming world champion at 18. The IAAF said in August 2009 that the teenager had had a gender verification process and was ineligible to compete.

Eleven months later, in July 2010, the IAAF said “the process” was “complete” and Semenya could return.

“Life is all about choices,” Semenya told BBC Sport on Sunday. “At that particular period I did what I thought was right for me so people should not make the mistakes that l’ve made before. That’s the advice I can give.”

Asked if she would take drugs again, she replied: “No, no freaking way. I was still young then. I would say I’d been used.”

What else happened at the meet?

Elsewhere, Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith was third in the women’s 200m as Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare won in 22.05 seconds, with Jamaica’s 200m Olympic champion Elaine Thompson second in 22.21secs.

Asher-Smith, who won the event at the Doha and Stokholm meets, ran 22.42s.

Britain’s Laura Muir was in action in the women’s 1500m and the Scot, European champion over the distance, ran 3:59.47 to finish behind Kenya’s Olympic and world champion Faith Kipyegon (3:59.04).

In the men’s 100m, American Christian Coleman won in 9.81secs, the fastest time in the world this year, beating 37-year-old compatriot Justin Gatlin, who was second in 9.87secs, and third-placed British sprinter Zharnel Hughes (9.97).

Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou won the women’s 100m in 11.02secs, with Americans Aleia Hobbs (11.04) and Teahna Daniels (11.13) in second and third respectively.

Jamaica’s two-time Olympic gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce struggled in the race as she finished seventh in 11.39secs.