Thomas Bach today admitted he had "a lot of sympathy" for Caster Semenya and revealed that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would study the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision which means new eligibility regulations for the female classification for athletes with differences of sex development can now be introduced.
The controversial CAS decision to back the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) means that South Africa's double Olympic 800 metres gold medallist and other affected athletes will have to take medication to reduce her testosterone if she wants to continue running in major competitions at events between 400 metres and a mile.
"First of all I must say I have a lot of sympathy for Caster Semenya over this decision," Bach told Reuters while attending the Australian Olympic Committee Annual General Meeting in Sydney.
"Having said this, the issue as such is extremely complex.
"It has scientific impact, it has ethical impact, it impacts on 'fair play' in competition so it's extremely delicate and it's extremely difficult to do justice to all these [elements].
"What the IOC have been doing is trying to assist the International Federations because it is they who have to take the decision because it is their rules.
"The IOC respects CAS decisions, as we always do...but from a human point of view, yes, I have sympathy for her."
Semenya set a meeting record of 1min 54.98sec in the women’s 800m at the opening IAAF Diamond League meeting of the season in Doha last night in what will be her last race before the new regulations officially come into effect next Tuesday (May 8).
The World Medical Association (WMA) yesterday urged its members not to administer drugs which lower the level of testosterone in female athletes.
The IOC plan to study the full CAS decision before issuing a judgement.
"This is why we have this working group, where there are also medical experts," Bach told Reuters.
"They try, as we always try in these situations, to come to what scientists call a consensus.
"This is what they are working on. I am not a medical expert so I cannot comment on the [WMA] statement.
"I have to rely on the experts.
"It is not only scientific, it is not only ethical, it is not only sport, it is also highly emotional.
"I'm afraid for these experts it will be very difficult to find a solution that brings together all these arguments."