Caster Semenya’s record-breaking Olympic career could be over after the defiant South African runner said she will not take drugs to lower her testosterone, which had been mandated by a court in a ground-breaking ruling.
The track star and gold medal winner said on Friday that she has no plans to comply with a court order to take drugs to combat a genetic condition in which her body produces higher levels of testosterone. As The Associated Press reported, Semenya kept her focus on the track this week, winning the 880-meter race at the Diamond League contest in Qatar, notching her fourth-fastest time ever in what could be her final competitive race.
Semenya had filed a lawsuit against the track and field governing body, the International Associated of Athletics Foundation, over a rule that female runners with high testosterone had to take medicine to decrease their levels in order to compete. Semenya lost in a 2-1 ruling, with the court admitting that the rules of the IAAF were discriminatory but noting that “such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means” of “preserving the integrity of female athletics.”
When asked if she would comply with the court order and take medication that would allow her to compete, Semenya was defiant.
“Hell, no,” she responded.
Semenya’s win was her 30th consecutive victory in the 800-meter race, a streak that The Associated Press noted dates back to 2015. Should Semenya choose not to comply with the terms of the court’s decision, that streak will likely end without Semenya ever losing to another competitor
After her victory on the track, Semenya was content in her athletic accomplishments and dominance over the field. Semenya also said she had no plans on retiring, though may be forced into an early end to her career if she refuses to comply with the court order.
“God has decided my career, God will end my career,” she said in a BBC interview. “No man, or any other human, can stop me from running. How am I going to retire when I’m 28? I still feel young, energetic. I still have 10 years or more in athletics.”
The court ruling has sparked a debate over what appeared to be a double standard for a female competitor. Many noted that Caster Semenya’s genetic condition that gives her an advantage over competitors was ruled unfair, but Olympic champions Michael Phelps was celebrated for his exceptionally long arms and natural ability to produce roughly half the lactic acid of the normal athlete, which helps his muscles to avoid fatigue.