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Court of Arbitration for Sport blocks rules on female athletes with high male hormone levels

South Africa's Caster Semenya (R) and Morrocco's Halima

South Africa's Caster Semenya (R) and Morrocco's Halima Hachlaf (L) compete in the women's 800m heats at the athletics event of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Aug. 8, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

LAUSANNE, Switzerland - In a victory for individual athletes over governing bodies, sport's highest court has suspended IAAF rules governing women who have high levels of male hormones.

The rules requiring some female athletes to get medical clearance were introduced in 2011, after South African 800-meter runner Caster Semenya was sidelined for almost a year after winning the 2009 world title when she was 18.

However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said Monday the world athletics body failed to prove that women with naturally high levels of testosterone had a competitive edge.

"In the absence of such evidence, the CAS Panel was unable to conclude that hyperandrogenic female athletes may benefit from such a significant performance advantage that it is necessary to exclude them from competing in the female category," the court's interim ruling said in an appeal brought by sprinter Dutee Chand of India.

Chand was cleared to compete by the court which gave the IAAF body until July 24, 2017, to present new scientific evidence.

The IAAF's rules on hyperandrogenism-- or the presence of high levels of testosterone -- will be declared void if no evidence is presented by the deadline.

Chand, now 19, appealed to CAS after India's athletics body barred her from competition last year, forcing her to miss the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

She challenged the legal validity of the IAAF's rules rather than undergo medical treatment.

CAS had previously let Chand run in international events pending a verdict.

In its interim ruling published Monday, the court panel of three lawyers said officials at the Monaco-based governing body had acted with good intentions.

"The panel wishes to reiterate that its conclusion does not reflect any bad faith or incompetence on the part of the IAAF," the ruling said.

In the Semenya case, she was eventually cleared by the IAAF to return to competition, and won a silver medal in the 800 at the 2012 London Olympics.

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