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I’ve never felt supported by women in sport, says Semenya

LACK OF SUPPORT: Female athletes have complained about Caster Semenya's ability to compete without taking medication to lower her testosterone levels

CASTER SEMENYA has said that she has “never really felt very supported” by women in sport.

The double Olympic champion is challenging the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) new rules that state athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) must medicate to reduce their naturally high levels of testosterone or switch to another race.

Semenya, who has naturally high levels of the hormone in her body, has repeatedly appealed against the IAAF’s regulations.

Speaking at a women’s conference in Johannesburg, where she was the headline speaker, the South African athlete said her wins had made her a target.

BBC Sport reported she said: "I'm targeted because I'm undefeated.

"Since I have been in sport, I have never really felt very supported, I've never felt recognised mostly by women."

She added: "I think it comes more into the international stage when you see your own rivals come with this, what can I call it, these rude responses in terms of me competing against them."

British runner Lynsey Sharpe is among those who have complained about previous rulings that enabled athletes with DSD to race without taking medication to lower the testosterone in their system.

Speaking to the BBC after placing sixth in the 800m final at the Rio Olympics in 2016, Sharpe said: “I have tried to avoid the issue all year. You can see how emotional it all was. We know how each other feels. It is out of our control and how much we rely on people at the top sorting it out. The public can see how difficult it is with the change of rule but all we can do is give it our best.”

Commenting on Semenya’s case with the IAAF, retired British runner Paula Radcliffe expressed fears that it could signal the death of womens’ sport.

Radcliffe told Sky News in April: "Will it open the door up there to transgender athletes actually being able to say: 'You know what, we don't need to bring our [testosterone] levels down either, we don't need to have any surgery, we can just identity how we feel and we can come in and compete in women's sport?'

"That would be the death of women's sport."

After a ruling that permitted her to compete without taking action to lower her testosterone levels, Semenya will not compete to defend her 800m title in Doha in September.

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