IOC head Bach says he has “sympathy” for Caster Semenya

IOC President Thomas Bach said Saturday he has “a lot of sympathy” for Caster Semenya after the South African runner lost her Court of Arbitration for Sport appeal in a landmark case against track and field’s governing body.

Based on Wednesday’s CAS decision, Semenya, who won the 800 meters at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, would have to artificially reduce her levels of testosterone to defend her titles at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

After winning an 800-meter race at the Doha Diamond League on Friday, her reply to a question of whether she will now submit to new IAAF regulations and take hormone-reducing medication was: “Hell no.”

At the Australian Olympic Committee annual general meeting on Saturday, Bach said at a media conference: “First of all I must say I have a lot of sympathy for Caster Semenya over this decision.”

“Having said this, the issue as such is extremely complex,” Bach added. “It has scientific impact, it has ethical impact, it impacts on fair play in competition so it’s extremely delicate and it’s extremely difficult to do justice to all these.”

“The IOC respects CAS decisions, as we always do, but from a human point of view, yes, I have sympathy for her.”

Bach said an IOC committee would go over the full CAS ruling once it was available, including recommendations on how the rules should be implemented.

During an earlier speech to the AOC meeting, Bach said: “In Olympic sport, all people are equal regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, cultural background or political beliefs. Therefore, we stand firmly against discrimination of any kind.”

Bach also said the IOC wants boxing at the Tokyo Games and is prepared to organize both the qualification and the competition on its own if the sport’s troubled international governing body, the AIBA, loses its Olympic status over leadership and financial problems.

“You know boxing is an important Olympic sport,” Bach said. “It’s a very universal sport, so we want to have boxing on the program. And then if the case arises and we would have to make an effort then to have such a tournament.”


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