Mokgadi Caster Semenya is a South African female athlete and two-time Olympic gold medallist specialising in the 800m and 1500m events. She was born, raised and has lived as a woman her entire life; and she has competed in athletics as the woman she is.
Nevertheless, Regulations implemented by World Athletics in 2018 prohibit Caster Semenya from competing in any “relevant events” in the women’s category (namely, track events from 400m to the mile – the very distances in which she specialises) unless she reduces her naturally circulating testosterone levels by otherwise unnecessary medical treatment (necessitating medication or even surgery).
Caster Semenya fought and lost her challenge to the World Athletics’ Regulations at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (in Lausanne) and in the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, which concluded that the Regulations are discriminatory and violate her right to physical integrity but were held to be justified on the basis of fair competition in women’s sport. She now has filed an application to the European Court of Human Rights, asking the Court to confirm that Switzerland has failed in its positive obligations to protect against the violations of her fundamental human rights and freedoms under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Schona Jolly QC and Claire McCann, both barristers at Cloisters, are instructed in this significant case by Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers, Gregory Nott and Patrick Bracher in Johannesburg and Christian Dargham in Paris, working alongside Toronto-based lawyers, James Bunting and Carlos Sayao of Tyr LLP who complete the team.