- Starts at: 16:00h
- Fee: Free
- Venue: Online
- Organiser: Asser International Sports Law Centre
Join us on 13 October at 16:00 for an online discussion on the ECtHR judgment in the much-awaited Caster Semenya v. Switzerland where we address how it will affect the place of human rights (and in particular the ECHR) at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the intensity of the supervision exercised by the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT), as well as the justification of the regulatory decisions of the sports governing bodies (SGBs).
During the 2023/2024 academic year, the Asser International Sports Law Centre will dedicate special attention to the intersection between transnational sports law and governance and gender. This online discussion is the first of a series of (online and offline) events which will explore the way in which international SGBs and the CAS define the gender divide in international sports, police gender-based abuses, and secure gender-specific rights to athletes.
Caster Semenya, a South-African runner and Olympic champion, was dominating her favorite distance, the 800m, for a number of years, when in 2018 the World Athletics (then known as IAAF) adopted a new set of regulations (colloquially known as the DSD Regulations), which imposed new conditions to the eligibility of athletes for certain female competitions, such as the 800m. Semenya, who has a condition known as differences in sex development (DSD), was forced to decide between subjecting to a specific medical treatment aimed at diminishing the level of testosterone in her body or stopping competing on her preferred distance. As she refused to undergo any medical treatment to regain eligibility, she decided to challenge the legality of World Athletics DSD Regulations before the CAS in Lausanne. While the CAS acknowledged that the Regulations were discriminatory and were disregarding the legal sex of Semenya in the name of a so-called sporting sex, the arbitrators also considered that this discrimination was justified and proportionate. Semenya’s challenge against the award was rejected by the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT) in August 2020. As a last resort, she decided to lodge an application with ECtHR against Switzerland.
On 11 July 2023, the ECtHR released its judgment in the much-awaited Caster Semenya v. Switzerland case. In short, the Strasbourg Court sided with Semenya and concluded that Switzerland failed to comply with its positive obligations stemming from the European Convention on Human Rights. The ruling is an important milestone in the interaction between the CAS and (European) human rights law. It will likely affect the place of human rights (and in particular the ECHR) at the CAS, the intensity of the supervision exercised by the SFT, as well as the justification of the regulatory decisions of the SGBs. We look forward to discussing these with our two speakers, who have followed closely the case and already blogged (here and here) about the judgment:
- Dr. Lena Holzer is Assistant Professor in Gender, Race and the Law at the University of Cambridge and the author of ‘What Does it Mean to be a Woman in Sports? An Analysis of the Jurisprudence of the Court of Arbitration for Sport’.
- Dr. Michele Krech is Harry A. Bigelow Teaching Fellow, Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago she is the author of ‘The Misplaced Burdens of ‘Gender Equality’ in Caster Semenya v IAAF: The Court of Arbitration for Sport Attempts Human Rights Adjudication’ and ‘To Be a Woman in the World of Sport: Global Regulation of the Gender Binary in Elite Athletics’.