Caster Semenya is the South African sprinter who ripped up the women’s 400 and 800 Meter events starting in 2008. Coming out of nowhere, Caster’s times improved markedly, and extremely rapidly.
Due to Caster’s appearance, facial hair, and musculature – other teams cried foul, that Caster wasn’t a woman (Which has happened in the past).
The physical exam and DNA tests provided the most unimaginable answer possible – Caster is both man and woman, a true hermaphrodite, shattering the staid sports world’s neat sexual definitions…
And possibly altering women’s sports forever.
This has led to a complete circus, with plenty of hurt to go around. There is no reason to believe that Caster, or any of her coaches was aware of her condition. Nor is there any reason to believe there has been any sort of underhanded steroid or chemical manipulation. On the other hand, is it fair for Caster to compete against women whose “female” genetic makeup doesn’t give them male muscle mass?
One thing for certain – the only people in the world dumber than politicians at handling difficult issues…
Is Sports Governing authorities.
South African sports minister Makhenkesi Stofile was forced into an embarrassing climb-down on the eve of the World Cup on Thursday after being ordered to cancel a high-profile announcement that Caster Semenya had been cleared to compete again in women’s races.
Stofile, who warned last year of “Third World War” if the 800 metres world champion was barred from competition on gender grounds, had called a news conference in Johannesburg to announce that the 19 year-old was free to resume her athletics career following the conclusion of a nine-month gender inquiry by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
It later emerged that the IAAF had been forced to intervene, complaining that Stofile had jumped the gun and that its long-running gender investigation had yet to be completed.
In a statement, the IAAF said: “The Caster Semenya case is being handled jointly by the IAAF and representatives for Semenya in a satisfactory way. It is important to note, though, that the procedure has still not been completed and must therefore remain confidential.
“The IAAF will only issue an official statement at the end of the process, which is now well under way. Until then, all parties should refrain from making statements that could only cause unnecessary confusion.”
Stofile’s blunder was all the more embarrassing because Semenya’s law firm, Dewey and LeBoeuf, had to withdraw a statement distributed earlier in the day in which it welcomed the IAAF’s decision to clear its client to race again.
Of greater concern, Semenya’s hopes of an end to the gender controversy were raised only to be dashed again. She was quoted in the same statement as saying: “I am overjoyed at the fact that the medical teams have come to the right conclusion. I look forward to competing over the course of the coming athletics season.”
Not for the first time in this sorry saga, it would seem Semenya’s feelings have been trampled on by the higher political forces at work.
Stofile may have been denied his wish to grandstand on the eve of the World Cup but at least Semenya should not have too much longer to wait to discover whether she has a future in women’s athletics.
Lamine Diack, the IAAF president, promised last month that the gender test results would be with her “no later than the end of June”.
It would also appear that the tests are complete and the findings merely require rubber-stamping.
Following the cancellation of yesterday’s announcement, Semenya’s lawyer, Greg Nott, said all that remained was for the IAAF council to receive a formal briefing on Semenya’s case by medical officials.
Semenya has not competed since the World Championships in Berlin last August, when she was ordered by the IAAF to undergo a gender verification test after doubts were raised about her masculine features and her rapid improvement over 800m.
She and her lawyers have been highly critical of the length of time the gender inquiry has taken and have accused the world governing body of infringing her human rights.