Caster Semenya is among the athletes impacted by World Athletics' DSD regulations ©Getty Images

A United Nations Human Rights Council report has called on sporting bodies to "review, revise and revoke" eligibility rules which have a negative impact on athletes’ rights, with the document highlighting the case of Caster Semenya.

Double Olympic 800 metres champion Semenya is barred from participating in events from 400m to a mile unless she takes testosterone-reducing drugs.

It followed World Athletics’ controversial differences in sexual development regulations being upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last year.

The report comes after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet conducted an inquiry following a resolution from South Africa last year over Semenya’s case.

The report, titled "Intersection of race and gender discrimination in sport", claims regulations "effectively legitimise the surveillance of all women athletes based on stereotypes of femininity" and "denies athletes with variations in sex characteristics an equal right to participate in sports and violates the right to non-discrimination more broadly."

The report also suggests human rights could be violated with the assertion that while the regulations "do not force athletes to undergo any assessment or treatment, they leave athletes with the choice of either undergoing these intrusive medically unnecessary assessments or being subjected to treatments with negative impacts on their health and well-being."

It is claimed such treatments could "entail the risk of harm to physical and bodily integrity that may amount to violations of the right to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and even torture."

The report also suggests the regulations could impede on an athletes’ right to work and potentially lead to negative physical and mental health impacts.

Among a list of recommendations made in the report, the UNHRC say sporting governing bodies "should review, revise and revoke eligibility rules and regulations that have negative effects on athletes’ rights, including those addressing athletes with intersex variations."

The report also recommends considering "a review of the interactions between private and public law in sports, with due regard for the independence of sporting bodies and the pre-eminent duty of states to respect, protect and fulfil rights."

Michelle Bachelet conduced the inquiry ©Getty Images
Michelle Bachelet conduced the inquiry ©Getty Images

The report also appears to call for nations to intervene to ensure human rights for athletes within their sport.

The document suggests that "many athletes face obstacles in accessing effective remedies and obtaining full redress for violations of their human rights in sport, since most disputes related to professional sport are adjudicated by private dispute resolution mechanisms that are not designed to fully address human rights."

The CAS last year deemed World Athletics regulations to be "necessary, reasonable and proportionate" to protect the fairness of women's sport.

The regulations mean DSD athletes with naturally high levels of testosterone who wish to participate in events between the two distances must medically limit that level to under 5 nmol/L, double the normal female range of below 2 nmol/L.

World Athletics has maintained that the regulations are "a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of protecting fair and meaningful competition in elite female athletics" and that the CAS agreed with them.

The governing body claimed last year that defining the female category on "something other than biology would be category defeating and would deter many girls around the world from choosing competitive and elite sport after puberty."

Semenya is currently awaiting the outcome of an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

The UN report also makes several recommendations on other areas within sport to help address inequalities.

Recommendations also include reviewing laws, policies and programmes with a view to addressing barriers to equal access to sport for women and girls, and ensuring access to adequate and effective remedies that can provide full redress for discrimination in sport.

The report also recommends carrying out public education campaigns to counter gender-stereotyped and racist attitudes, as well as using all appropriate measures to address negative and stereotypical portrayals of female athletes in the media.