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Thursday, June 20, 2019
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Mendoza: Cementing Semenya’s niche

FEMALE athletes in athletics recently took a major blow in their fight to retain what God has given them at birth.

In a landmark decision, the sports world’s highest court ruled that female runners with unusually high testosterone must take medication to reduce their levels of the male sex hormones.

The verdict’s most famous casualty was Caster Semenya, the 28-year-old South African, whose breakneck speed had given her Olympic gold medals twice in the 800 meters and forced her rivals to question her accomplishments.

In response to Semenya’s critics, the International Alliance of Athletics Federation (IAAF) issued new rules on tournament qualifications for female runners, eliciting a fierce objection from Semenya.

Last week, the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) came up with a close 2-1 decision, upholding the IAAF’s ruling on the testosterone issue.

Curiously, the CAS recognized the discriminatory nature of the IAAF proposal but then, it said “such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of preserving the integrity of female athletics.”

The ruling could affect other sports involving women participants with unusually high levels of testosterone that give them advantage in size, speed and power. Females in boxing, swimming, soccer, golf and even tennis might soon follow suit.

Semenya said she would not take the decision sitting down.

“I know that the IAAF’s regulations have always targeted me specifically,” she said in a statement.

“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,” she added.

She is due to defend her 800-m World Championship title in September in Doha, Qatar. But for her to qualify, she will have to lower her testosterone levels either by taking birth control pills or prostate cancer drugs.

Aren’t we punishing Semenya for what God had intended her to be?

Isn’t God’s creation final? Beautiful even?


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