Caster Semenya is back on track. He runs 5000 meters.

South Africa’s Caster Semenya, a two-time Olympic champion and three-time world champion in the 800m, is barred from competing in his favorite event this week at the World Athletics Championships due to intersex athletes and permissible testosterone levels. In quarter-mile to mile events that combine speed and endurance.

But Semenya’s name is on the entry list for the 5,000m, a 3.1-mile race. It is not covered by the regulations for athletes like Semenya, who are classified as having a sexual development disorder – a genetic variant known as 46,XY DSD – and who have both an X and a Y chromosome, the standard male pattern.

Semenya, 31, fell short of the qualifying time of 15 minutes, 10 seconds in the 5,000, but others ahead of her are not competing in the event, so Semenya was added to round out the field.

He is not considered a medal contender and may not advance to Wednesday’s semifinal games. But it will certainly add intrigue to an event featuring Olympic champion Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands and world record holder Letesenbet Giday of Ethiopia, who has won 10,000 at those championships.

Semenya, who was assigned female at birth and identifies as a woman, announced: “I’m a woman and I’m fast.” But in a hard-hitting case about biological sex, gender identity and fair play, he has lost challenges to 800 without reducing natural testosterone levels at the Swiss Supreme Court and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, or CAS.

CAS ruled in 2021 that World Athletics, athletics’ governing body, had imposed “discriminatory” rules on intersex athletes, but that the rules were “necessary, reasonable and proportionate” to ensure a level playing field in certain races.

World Athletics argued that intersex athletes have an unfair advantage in lean muscle mass, strength and oxygen carrying capacity. According to the governing body, the lowest level of testosterone in men is four times higher than the highest level in the female range.

But Semenya’s case is complicated. Scientists have not been able to determine the exact effect of testosterone on performance. Last year, World Athletics corrected its own research, saying it found no causal link between high testosterone levels and athletic performance among elite female athletes.

Semenya has refused to take hormone therapy to reduce her natural testosterone levels, saying it poses a risk to her health. He also calls the rules preventing him from operating 800 a violation of his basic human rights. It has an ally in the World Medical Association, which says the world’s athletics regulations are based on “weak evidence”.

But the requirements for women’s participation in the race may become even more stringent.

Many are expecting the sport to implement a recently-imposed rule by FINA, swimming’s world governing body, that covers the separate but related topic of transgender athletes. The FINA rule effectively bans transgender women from competing at the highest international level unless they begin medical treatment to suppress testosterone production before they go through one of the early stages of puberty or age 12, whichever is later.

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