Caster Semenya, the current 800-metre Olympic champion, has caused controversy in athletics…again. This being down to her disease called Hyperandrogenous, a medical condition where women experience excessive levels of androgen. The question is whether this could provide an unfair advantage for female athletes competing against Semenya.
After the 2009 World Championships, it was announced that she had been subjected to gender testing. This is to do with sex verification in sports, where women who have an intersex condition could be given an alleged, unfair advantage. The question of drug use aroused when she had beaten her previous 800m record by four seconds just a month earlier.
Over the last decade she has faced questions over the way she looks and her natural muscular build of male characteristics raised questions over female athletes rights over unfairness. Sex is characterised as well as countries, but the IAAF are now turning to physical characteristics.
The IAAF put in a rule change last year where athletes with this condition were required to take medication to lower their testosterone levels for six months before racing internationally. This ensures fairness among fellow female athletes so that everyone can race on an equal playing field with the same levels of testosterone.
They are trying to argue a humanity-issue scientifically which, as a result, has caused disaster and controversy. ‘Science’ seems to be a cover up for racism, homophobia and sexism.
Simply, the athlete with Hyperandogenous must do one of the two things: take the medication to lower testosterone levels, or race against men. Neither seem necessary.
Semenya is currently undergoing a lengthy legal battle with the IAAF about the rule change.
An unfair argument is going on in the world of athletics and it seems this rule change is specifically being targeted at Semenya as there seems to be no one else in the picture. So why now?
In a recent Nike campaign, Semenya asks, “Would it be easier if I wasn’t so fast? Would it be simpler if I should stop winning?”
Semenya is handling such a hit, when the condition she has is simply not her fault. She grew up in a poor area of Africa; the facilities may not have been been as glamorous as what her other competitors would have been used to while growing up, but she has still trained just as hard as the other athletes. She isn’t winning everything in sight, when she does win it looks an easy win.
She is a courageous, strong woman and I wonder why people can’t look past her physical appearance and see the heart-warming side of the story for this successful athlete instead of criticising…resulting in a big change within the sport.
If the rule is successful, a sport scientist has suggested that Semeyna could run a whole seven seconds slower in the 800m. Seconds in athletics is the longest time in the world.
Imagine taking medication to reduce your speed so much so that it hinders your chance of winning gold medals. Does that seem fair? Let the case continue.