Ever heard of Caster Semenya? Semenya, a South African middle-distance runner, won the gold medal for the 800m in the 2009 World Championships. She also won the 800m and 1500m races in the 2009 African Junior Championships as well as the gold medal in the 800m in the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games. she now attends Pretoria University in South Africa as a Sports Science student. So basically, shes your average, model citizen athlete for South Africa, right?? Actually, Semenya has been involved in one of the most bizarre sports controversies of 2009. Its not steroids, illegal drugs, or equipment violations. Its not spiking the apponents Gatorade, intimidating other opponents, or money laundering. It has to do….with….GENDER!
The International Association of Athletics Federation started to become suspicious when they noticed that Semenya had made over 25 seconds worth of improvements in her 1500m best, as well as almost 10 seconds in the 800m best. The IAAF requested a gender test for Semenya because they thought her race results were SO good that they were un-feminine (if that is a word). After alot of waiting, the test results have “unofficially” come through the grape vine and have purportedly shown that Semenya has no womb, no ovaries, and produces testosterone levels three times higher than the average woman. It also supposedly showed that Semenya has both male and female organs. When the IAAF was asked of the results, they said that they have not seen the results, but the also didn’t deny the results either.
The latest controversial trend in track and field athletes have been steroid use. Could it be now that the latest trend will become “gender abuse”? How many female athletes out there are really male? Is Allyson Felix really Al Felix? Will the US softball team be caught shaving their faces before the 2012 London games? Its hard to know if this is an isolated case, but it presents a problem for the IAAF. If a new athlete signs up for a race, is the first registration question: Are you male or female or hermaphrodite?
If Semenya is truly a hermaphrodite, then I would find it hard to believe that she didn’t know this before her running career. And if that is the case, then should she be stripped of all her medals? Or would that be gender discrimination? Its a tough call that IAAF will have to make, but one things for certain, if you saw Caster Semenya next to Allyson Felix in a race, what gender do you think Semenya would be??