South African runner Caster Semenya, 800m gold medalist at the Berlin World Athletics Championship competition, recently underwent a gender verification test after questions were raised due to her commanding win last month.
According to sources close to the investigation, the examination revealed that Semenya lacked ovaries and a womb but had internal testis and three times the normal amount of testosterone than considered normal. The final verdict circulating is that while she is female, she is not 100% female.
These results bring into question several issues. Will she be stripped of her medal, and to what extent did Athletics South Africa (ASA) know prior to the competition of Semenya's condition?
Since no evidence currently exists of Semenya knowingly cheating, would it be fair to take away her medal, or perhaps let her keep it and award a second gold medal?
Based on her gender test alone, she will not have to give up the medal. However, if she is found to have had an unfair advantage due to the hormone concentrations in her body, then she might have to give it up.
Athletics SA president Leonard Chuene currently denies any gender testing has taken place, and if so, has been done illegally without consent from the Semenya, and has raised the racism alarm.
It should however be noted, that gender testing used to be a requirement before competing at the Olympics for all athletes. International Association of Athletics Federations stopped gender screening for all athletes in 1992.
While ASA is vigorously defending their athlete, where were they before? Were questions not raised when she appeared out of nowhere to qualify for the race? Were officials desperate to show case a winning athlete, that proper tests and knowledge were disregarded?
Reports are filtering in that South African officials heard questions and uncertainties regarding Semenya's gender as early as four years prior yet did nothing. It is also interesting to note, that her coach happens to be the controversial Ekkart Arbeit.
Arbeit used to be a coach of the East German track team in the 1970s and 1980s. He admitted to giving his athletes anabolic steroids, resulting in at least one undergoing gender reassignment due to the effects of those pills and his part in the program.
While he is not accused of any wrong doing yet, his presence as a coach and the mentality of the program should be questioned. By employing a coach such as this, ASA has shown where its true priorities are, and it is not to the athletes but to win at all costs.
In any case, we can all agree, that the biggest loser in all of this is Caster Semenya herself. All the publicity, the embarrassing questions are now on an international scale. It remains to be seen how this story plays out.
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