Caster Semenya is opening up about her frustration with trying to prove her womanhood to track officials in order to compete in the sport in which she excels.
In a new interview with HBO Real Sports airing in full Tuesday night, the 31-year-old South African track star discussed the moment she, as a teenager, offered to show her body in order to prove she was a female to World Athletics, the international governing body for track and field.
Semenya recalled her 800m win at the 2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin, opening up about her dominant performance as an 18-year-old rookie that resulted in her being subjected to sex verification tests.
"They thought I had a d— probably," she said in a preview of the episode. "I told them, 'It's fine. I'm a female. I don't care. If you want to see I'm a woman, I will show you my vagina. Alright?' "
The IAAF later required Semenya to take an undisclosed medication that would lower her naturally high testosterone levels in order to compete against other female athletes.
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"It made me sick, made me gain weight, panic attacks. I didn't know if I was ever going to have a heart attack," Semenya said of the medication. "It's like stabbing yourself with a knife every day. But I had no choice. I'm 18, I want to run. I want to make it to (the) Olympics, that's the only option for me. But I had to make it work."
Watch: Caster Semenya Fights Against Sexism
World Athletics lawyer Jonathan Taylor was also interviewed for the episode and defended the regulations for athletes with differences of sex development, claiming the medications aren't unhealthy because the drugs are suggested by "the world's leading experts."
"Jonathan must cut his tongue and throw it away," Semenya said in the clip responding to Taylor. "If he wants to understand how that thing has tortured me, he must go and take those medications. He will understand."
Semenya is currently banned from competing in distances from 400m to a mile at elite track meets. She can only race if she agrees to take medication to lower her testosterone again and meet updated regulations. However, Semenya has refused (In 2019, Semenya also said she would not take a hormone-reducing medication, outlets reported at the time). She hasn't run an 800m race at a major event since 2019, which also prevented the track star from defending her title at the Tokyo Olympics last year.
Semenya has challenged the testosterone regulations but lost in the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Swiss Federal Tribunal. She is currently waiting for a hearing date at the European Court of Human Rights following her third appeal launched earlier this year.
Announcing her latest appeal in February, Semenya tweeted, "All we ask is to be able to run free as the strong and fearless women we are!!"