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Rules for intersex athletes similar to apartheid, Cameroon envoy says

By on July 7, 2021 0

July 7 (Reuters) – World Athletics is imposing a kind of apartheid on women with intersex variations by forcing them to reduce high testosterone levels with drugs to participate in the female category, a Cameroonian minister-counselor said on Wednesday.

World Athletics said comments from Come Damien Georges Awoumou, Minister-Counselor of the Cameroonian Mission to the United Nations, showed a “complete lack of understanding” of their female eligibility rules and the “need to protect” the category .

Awoumou was speaking on behalf of the African Group at a special debate on sport and human rights held at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“We are seeing a situation where the IAAF (World Athletics) through these regulations is using sport to discriminate against women with intersex variations and to reinforce harmful gender stereotypes,” Awoumou said.

“The majority of the athletes affected by the rules are from the south of the world and for Africa these rules remind us of the difficult and dark past of racial segregation,” he said.

“The segregation of women on the basis of intersex variations has the same effect as apartheid, one of the international crimes against humanity.”

World Athletics rules for female classification require that athletes with a “difference in sexual development” or a sexual anatomy that does not match female or male binary boxes, reduce their levels of testosterone, a hormone that increases muscle mass, strength and affects endurance.

The rules apply to running events of 400 meters per mile.

Namibian athletes Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi were withdrawn from the 400m event at the Olympics last week after tests revealed their natural testosterone levels were too high. Read more

Eligibility rules also prevented South African Caster Semenya, Burundian Francine Niyonsaba and Kenyan Margaret Wambui from competing after refusing to lower their testosterone levels with medication.

Semenya lost an appeal to the Swiss Federal Court last year.

World Athletics defended its rules on Wednesday.

“The existence of any female category is inherently discriminatory, which is necessary for women to have a category in which they can shine and succeed. Without protecting this category, women and girls would never win an event,” he said. he said in a press release.

“The Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Swiss Federal Court both understood this principle when they ruled in favor of our settlement, agreeing that such discrimination is lawful if it constitutes a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means to achieve legitimate objective, namely to preserve fairness and meaningful competition in the female category. “

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Mitch Phillips, written by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru Editing by Christian Radnedge

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