In a series of tweets over the last few days, South African runner Caster Semenya announced that she has signed with a women’s soccer team, then made it clear she is not giving up on track and field.
Semenya, a two-time Olympic champion who has been forced from her sport by a controversial new rule, joined JVW FC and is scheduled to play in the semiprofessional Sasol Women’s League.
“Being a footballer doesn’t mean I’m no longer a track and field athlete,” she wrote. “Just making things clear.”
The announcement comes shortly before the track world championships in Qatar, where officials have ruled that Semenya cannot compete unless she complies with a new regulation for female athletes.
Being a footballer doesn't mean I'm no longer a track and field athlete.Just making things clear. pic.twitter.com/15G4u5P120— Caster Semenya (@caster800m) September 7, 2019
The International Assn. of Athletics Federations has targeted women with “differences of sexual development,” meaning they have natural testosterone levels beyond the normal female range.
IAAF officials claim this condition, which they estimate occurs in seven of every 1,000 female runners at the elite level, represents an unfair advantage because testosterone is responsible for muscle mass and strength.
Such athletes who compete in events ranging from 400 meters to the mile have been given a choice: Either take medication to alter their body chemistry or race against men.
Semenya, an 800-meter runner who has long endured scrutiny because of her fast times, broad shoulders and muscular build, has challenged the rule but lost in a series of courts. She has vowed to continue with appeals.
After she signed with JVW in her home country, the team’s founder told the Tide website that Semenya “has not giving up on running at all.”
“She’s on a break at the moment, which is why she has time on her hands to do something different,” Janine van Wyk said.
Semenya tweeted: “Looking forward to this journey.”