LIZ McColgan, Scotland’s former World and Olympic champion, last night welcomed the decision from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to dismiss Caster Semenya’s appeal against an IAAF ruling ordering her and other hyper-androgynous athletes to medicate to suppress her naturally-occurring but abnormal testosterone levels if she wants to compete over any distance between 400m and the mile in future.

McColgan, whose daughter EIlish is a potential rival of Semenya’s over 1500m and 5000m, said the decision would “safeguard the future of women’s sport” but said hyper androgynous athletes should compete in a separate category in future, rather than be forced to take drugs to bring their hormone levels into line.

“The right decision has been made – we need to safeguard the future of women’s sport,” tweeted McColgan. “It is not about anyone individual but the fact that women deserve the right to a level playing field. A separate category needed – not enforced drug taking though.”

The 28-year-old South African, an imperious double Olympic champion over 800m, can now only appeal the matter of the Swiss Federal Court, which rarely overturns CAS rulings. She said she had been unfairly targeted by the athletics authorities and would continue to rise above. Sports scientists estimate that her 1500m time could be up to seven seconds slower in the event that she takes the medication, although in the short term at least the indications are that she move to 5000m, an event in which she was recently named South African champion.

“I know the IAAF’s regulations have always targeted me specifically,” read a statement from Semenya. “For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of 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.”

A long running controversy in the athletics world, the verdict has ramifications for many Scottish middle-distance runners. Not least of these Lynsey Sharp, whose determination to find out more about the subject was such that she wrote her university dissertation on the subject. When Semenya led home her fellow hyper-androgynous athletes Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya in a 1-2-3 in the 2016 Rio Olympic final, Sharp – finishing sixth – staged a show of unity with the other non-hyper androgynous athletes who finished above her.

“We know how each other feels,” said Sharp. “It is out of our control and you see how much we rely on people at the top sorting it out. The public can see how difficult it is with the change of rule but all we can do is give it our best.”

Opening up fault lines into race, gender and sexual politics – Semenya is gay - the issue has become a lightning rod for controversy. Sharp, widely attacked for those comments, merely said back in February that she was simply relieved that a decision would finally be made one way or another. The likes of Martina Navratilova and Billy-Jean King last night criticised the CAS ruling.

Laura Muir is another woman who has been deprived of a place on a global podium by Semenya, pipped into fourth at the London World Championships in 2017. While her coach Andy Young declined to comment yesterday, Muir said recently that she would race whoever is on the start line.

“I think it’s a very difficult situation,” she said. “And I don’t know that there’s really a right or wrong answer. All I can as an athlete is focus on myself – whoever is on the start line, I’ll race against. If she’s there, that ‘s fine, I’m more than happy to race against her. She’s a lovely person. I’ve raced against her quite a lot in the past and that is all you can do. You have to leave it up to the governing bodies as to what happens.”

The very definition of a contentious decision, then, and one which even the three judges at CAS were split upon, finally ruling in the favour of the IAAF by two to one. Ostensibly a big victory for the sport’s governing body, the CAS judges nonetheless had words of warning. They pointed out potential difficulties in ensuring that the rules over hyper-androgynous or athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs) are implemented fairly and across the board.