Caster Semenya Says She's 'Never Really Felt Supported' by Other Runners

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2019

South Africa's Caster Semenya smiles after winning the women's 800-meter race during the Prefontaine Classic, an IAAF Diamond League athletics meeting, in Stanford, Calif., Sunday, June 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Caster Semenya has been scrutinized over high testosterone levels throughout her track career, but the problems have been exacerbated by the isolation within the athletics community. 

"Since I have been in sport I have never really felt very supported, I've never felt recognized mostly by women," Semenya said as a headline speaker in a women's conference in Johannesburg, via Reuters.

The South African is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the 800-meter run, but she won't be allowed to compete at the 2019 World Championships because of a regulation that requires female athletes with high testosterone levels to take medication to reduce those levels.

Semenya was forced to undergo a sex verification test in 2009 after winning her first world title and has consistently faced opposition. The International Association of Athletics Federations most recently ruled that female runners with high testosterone levels will have to compete against men or take medication to reduce them.

"It is not fair. I just want to run naturally, the way I was born," she said in 2018, via BBC Sport. "I am Mokgadi Caster Semenya. I am a woman and I am fast."

Beyond the controversy with the sport's governing body, the 28-year-old has also had to deal with criticism from fellow runners.

Lynsey Sharp made headlines during the 2016 Olympics when she indicated it was "difficult" to compete with Semenya. These comments have not gone unnoticed. 

"I think it comes more into the international stage when you see your own rivals come with this...what can I call it...these rude responses in terms of me competing against them," Semenya said Wednesday.

She is currently appealing the latest ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport in an attempt to be allowed to compete in the 800 in September.