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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Caster Semenya. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya lost her appeal Wednesday against the International Association of Athletics Federations, whose rules are designed to reduce naturally high testosterone levels in some female runners.

Why it matters: The decision, announced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, means that athletes like Semenya will be forced to reduce their natural levels of testosterone to run track events from 400m to the mile.

The backdrop: The IAAF believes hyperandrogenism, or naturally high testosterone in women, gives athletes a competitive advantage. The rules require athletes to maintain testosterone levels at a prescribed amount "for at least six months prior to competing."

  • Today, the court found that IAAF's rule for women athletes with naturally high levels of testosterone is discriminatory, but concluded "such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means."
  • 100 meter, 200 meter and 100 meter hurdles, and races longer than 1 mile and field events are exempt.

Semenya, who runs the 800 meter, said in a statement she believes the decision has "targeted me specifically," per the BBC.

  • "For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of the CAS will not hold me back. I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world."
  • Minister of the Sport and Recreation Department Tokozile Xasa said: "As the South African government, we have always maintained that these regulations trample on the human rights and dignity of Caster Semenya and other women athletes. We will comment further studying the full judgement."

What to watch: The Court of Arbitration for Sport said it had "serious concerns as to the future practical application" of the IAAF regulations.

Go deeper

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

7 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.

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