Embattled athlete Caster Semenya has traded her running shoes for football boots after joining JVW Football Club in the South African SASOL League.
The two-time Olympic 800 meter champion has been barred from defending her world 800m title in Doha this month unless she takes hormone-suppressing drugs.
And while her athletics career is on ice, the 28-year-old has been training with JVW in eastern Johannesburg.
“I am grateful for this opportunity and I appreciate the love and support I already get from the team,” Semenya said on the club’s website. “I am looking forward to this new journey, and hopefully I can contribute as much as I can to the club.”
Semenya is not able to play first team football for the club this season as the transfer window has closed. Instead she will have to wait until 2020 to make her debut should her hiatus from athletics continue for another year.
JVW founder and South African women’s captain Janine van Wyk, who has recently signed with Danish outfit Fortuna Hjorring, said she was “extremely elated to have such an iconic athlete” join her ranks.
“I welcomed her at her first training session with the team on Tuesday,” she said on the club’s website. “I was impressed to see that she definitely has all the fundamentals.”
Semenya is fighting a case against the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after the institution approved the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) new testosterone limit for female athletes.
Under the rule, all athletes with a difference in sex development should reduce their blood testosterone to a specific level for at least six months — and then maintain that for the rest of their athletic career — in order to compete in events from 400 meters to a mile.
South African Semenya, who has naturally elevated levels of testosterone, has remained “steadfast in her defiance” of the rule, according to a statement released by her representative in July.