I CAN’T seem to walk away from Caster Semenya and so, here we go again.
The chief argument of the International Alliance of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in Semenya’s case is that female runners with high testosterone have an unfair advantage in events from 400 meters (m) to the mile.
After the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) upheld IAAF’s decision, the court also said that the rules must apply only up to the 800m because the evidence was not clear that women with hyperandrogenism (male tendencies) have an edge in the 1,500m and above.
The CAS decision will now require female athletes like Semenya with high testosterone (male sex hormones) to undergo blood tests to prove that they have complied before being allowed to race.
The landmark CAS rule came after Semenya won two Olympic gold medals in the 800m and a world championship plum—earning the ire of rivals left completely behind in the races ruled by the South African speedster.
Semenya, backed by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, seems bent on appealing to Switzerland’s Supreme Court, saying: “The decision of the CAS will not hold me back.”
But historically, the judges rarely overturn their decisions of the world sports court.
Semenya has an ally in Ross Tucker, a sports science consultant who boasts of a PhD in exercise physiology.
Tucker told AP’s Graham Dunbar: “The scientific evidence is insufficient to justify the [new] rules... as a result of the court decision, other sports will essentially copy the IAAF’s regulations.”
What is alarming is that hormone-blocking drugs such as testosterone-decreasing medicines can increase the risk of blood clots, thinning bones, fractures and heart problems.
As a teenager in 2009, Semenya, now 28, won her first world title in Berlin—after her gender was severely scrutinized by the IAAF.
Is Semenya another freak of nature?
Listen to Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, Semenya’s rival with high testosterone, too: “I didn’t choose to be born like this. What am I? I’m created by God.”