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Sports Shorts: Semenya says 'no threat' to women's sport

March 27, 2019 10:07 IST

A summary of sports events and persons who made news on Wednesday

Caster Semenya

IMAGE: South African 800-metres double Olympic champion Caster Semenya. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Double Olympic 800-metres champion Caster Semenya says she is "no threat" to women's sport and that recent comments from International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe have reopened old wounds.

Semenya is awaiting a Court of Arbitration for Sport verdict on her appeal against an IAAF regulation that says female athletes classed as having differences in sexual development (DSDs) gain an unfair advantage due to their higher testosterone levels, though only in races between 400 and 1,000m.


Under the new rules, athletes classed as having DSDs must reduce their blood testosterone level to below five (5) nmol/L for a continuous period of six months before they can compete. They must then maintain it below that level continuously.

The Court had been due to announce its decision on Tuesday but has postponed it until late April.

Coe told Australia's Daily Telegraph at the weekend: "The reason we have gender classification is because if you didn't then no woman would ever win another title or another medal or break another record in our sport."

In response Semenya, in a statement through her lawyers, said: "The scars Ms Semenya has developed over the past decade run deep."

"Reading the comments of Mr. Coe this weekend opened those old wounds and the reference by the Daily Telegraph (Australia) to 'the muscle-packed Semenya' is just the latest illustration of how the issues have been distorted by innuendo."

The statement continued: "Mr. Coe is wrong to think Ms Semenya is a threat to women's sport," calling her a 'heroine' and 'inspirational role model' to young girls.

Semenya also sought to differentiate her case from those of transgender athletes who were formerly male but have now entered the female sporting arena.

"Ms Semenya is a woman. There is no debate or question about this and the IAAF does not dispute this," the statement continued.

"She was born a woman, raised a woman, socialised as a woman and has competed as a woman her entire life."

"Mr. Coe may have views about transgender women in sport, but that is a different issue."

"Ms Semenya does not wish to undergo medical intervention to change who she is and how she was born. She wants to compete naturally."

Vettel seeks Ferrari boost in Bahrain

Sebastian Vettel will be aiming for his third successive Bahrain Grand Prix win on Sunday as Ferrari seek to show their lack of pace in Formula One’s Australian season opener was a one-off.

Tipped as pre-season favourites, the German and new team mate Charles Leclerc finished fourth and fifth in Melbourne, nearly a minute behind the dominant race-winning Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.

Albert Park can be seen as something of an outlier but Ferrari hope the more traditional layout of Bahrain’s 5.4-km Sakhir desert track will allow them to unlock the full potential of the SF90 car.

The most successful team in Bahrain, with six wins overall, can draw encouragement from last year when Mercedes were faster in Australia only for Ferrari to turn the tables with a front-row lockout and victory for Vettel.

That also started a streak of three straight pole positions for the German.

"In Bahrain, we expect to see the effect of the corrections we have made ...," said principal Mattia Binotto, who replaced Maurizio Arrivabene at the helm before the start of the season.

"We are well aware that our competitors will once again be very strong. With that in mind, we are keen to get back on track and face up to them."

Bottas, having driven what he described as the race of his life in Australia to finish more than 20 seconds ahead of team mate Lewis Hamilton in second place, will be keen to serve up a thriller under the floodlights.

Having come within a second of snatching victory from Vettel last year, Bottas has some unfinished business on Sunday while Hamilton, who has taken two of Mercedes’ three wins in Bahrain, will be keen to reassert his supremacy.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said nothing was won or lost at Albert Park.

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