The South African Government are reportedly planning to lobby other African countries as they prepare to fight against the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) ruling regarding testosterone levels in female athletes, which could mean double Olympic 800 metres champion Caster Semenya is barred from competing.
The new regulations, which the IAAF Council approved in March and are set to be implemented in November, state that female athletes who have a Difference of Sexual Development (DSD) with circulating testosterone levels of five nmol/L or above and who are androgen-sensitive, such as Semenya, must meet certain criteria in order to compete at international level.
Such athletes may now be forced to take medication to reduce their testosterone levels to remain eligible to compete.
These rules for DSD athletes apply to those competing in races between 400m and the mile and combined events involving these distances.
However, 100m, 200m and 100m hurdles are exempt, as are races over one mile and field events.
Semenya has reacted to the news by posting a series of cryptic messages on Twitter, including one that says "I am 97 per cent sure you don't like me, but I'm 100 per cent sure I don't care".
South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) party compared the new regulation to Apartheid-era policies and the South African Government are now said to be considering their options and are likely to lobby other African countries for support.
It has also been reported that the Government intends to contest the matter at the highest level of sport with the possibility of a case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport said to be on the cards.
Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa confirmed that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will meet with Semenya, winner of Commonwealth Games gold medals in the 800m and 1500m at Gold Coast 2018, in the near future to discuss the issue.
"We want to brief the president that we are challenging the international platform," she said according to Times Live.
"We want a position as South Africa to challenge this regulation.
"Caster has been winning.
"She has not been representing herself, she represents our country.
"We hope to look at other African countries.
"We will approach them and we must also get their support.
"It is not only directed at us, it is going to impact other athletes coming from Africa, nowhere else."
There have also been calls for the South African Olympic Committee (SASCOC), whose President Gideon Sam is on record as saying his organisation are "disappointed by the IAAF ruling", to challenge the ruling.
As reported by Eyewitness News, Onicca Moli, a member of the Limpopo Sports’ Executive Committee, has urged SASCOC to do so immediately.
"They should immediately challenge these lousy regulations with the Court of Arbitration for Sport because, clearly, the IAAF is a megalomaniac bully that will stop at nothing to humiliate our golden girl," she said.
Semenya hails from the Limpopo Province in the North East of the country.
In response to these reports, the IAAF told insidethegames: "Of course new sports rules and regulations can be challenged as they have always been through CAS.
"We stand ready to discuss our rules and regulations and the research and analysis that sits behind them with an organisation or individual if they would like to contact us."
Support for Semenya has also come from outside of Africa.
Indian sprinter Dutee Chand, who won an appeal at CAS in 2015 after being banned from the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow after the Athletic Federation of India claimed her hyperandrogenism made her ineligible to compete as a female athlete, has labelled the IAAF's recent decision as "wrong" and has offered legal help to Semenya.
The Canadian Centre of Ethics in Sport (CCES) and the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) have also spoken out against the ruling.
CCES President and chief executive Paul Melia said: "IAAF doesn’t place controls or limits on male athletes such as Usain Bolt or those who have genetic differences which may confer an advantage over others, in fact, they are typically celebrated.
"Women, on the other hand, are being scrutinized and forced to comply with policies that are arbitrary, overreaching and invasive.
“The sport community has a duty in this case to promote and protect inclusion and gender equity in sport at all levels.”
In a statement on their website, the CCES said: "The IAAF’s new policy also flies in the face of human rights, and particularly the various United Nations and International Olympic Committee undertakings that sport should be provided to all without discrimination of any kind."