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Sex on a spectrum in the binary world of sport: the CAS’s decision in the case of Caster Semenya & Ors v the IAAF

Athletics Track
Wednesday, 08 May 2019 By Celia Rooney

On 30 April 2019, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) delivered its award in the case of Caster Semenya & Athletics South Africa v the International Association of Athletics Federation, dismissing Ms Semenya’s request for arbitration and upholding the validity of the IAAF Regulations for Female Classification (Athletes with Differences of Sex Development) (the DSD Regulations).

In one of the most controversial sporting disputes in recent years, Ms Semenya sought to challenge the DSD Regulations, which place restrictions on the eligibility of women to compete as women in certain sporting events. The finding against her means that, unless she takes measures to reduce her endogenous testosterone levels, she will be unable to compete in events between 400 meters and one mile at the international level.

While the CAS’s full award is yet to be published, the reasons offered for the decision to date make for an interesting read and are considered below. The Executive Summary and Press Release are available here and here, respectively.

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Written by

Celia Rooney

Celia Rooney

Barrister, Blackstone Chambers

Celia practises across all of Chambers’ main areas of work, with particular experience of commercial disputes, sports law, public law and human rights, and employment. She is frequently instructed in cases where there is significant degree of overlap between her specialisms, such as commercial judicial reviews and sports and employment cases involving allegations of fraud. Similarly, from October to December 2016, Celia acted as sole legal counsel for the Payment Systems Regulator, advising on a 'super-complaint' by the consumer group, Which?, concerning authorised push payment fraud.

She has experience before a range of tribunals, including the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court  and has also appeared in cases before a number of regulatory bodies, such as The FA Regulatory Commission and Appeal Board. 

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