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Caster Semenya Once Again Free to Trounce the Track Competition

Well slap my face and call me queer: Caster Semenya, South Africa’s intersex track star, will get to lace up her shoes once again. After nearly a year of invasive gender tests and media scrutiny, the International Association of Athletics Federations has cleared Semenya to return to competition — as a woman. Immediately.

Then again, as the AP notes, “it is unclear if she has had any medical procedure or treatment during her time away,” and with her medical records remaining confidential (as they should), we will probably never know. The IAAF had barred Semenya from competing until her test results were completed in June.

By:           Ryan Tedder
On:           Jul 7, 2010
Tagged: , , , , , , ,

  • 14 Comments
    • Ted B. (Charging Rhino)
      Ted B. (Charging Rhino)

      WTF? S/he has testes and apparently is more “male” than Florentine castrati. International-level athletics isn’t Italian opera. If I were a competitor, I’d still sue.

      “…S/he’s a man, baby!”

      Jul 7, 2010 at 10:14 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DR
      DR

      Her run times and body structure will tell us all we need to know. Hopefully the IAAF came to a decision which is fair to all the athletes, not just one which would make Ms. Semenya an exception to the rule.

      Jul 7, 2010 at 12:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • missanthrope
      missanthrope

      Ted, shut the fuck up, nobody wants to read your tripe.

      And DR, her run times and body tells you exactly what? That she has long legs and is a gifted athlete?

      Jul 7, 2010 at 4:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Alli Contrary
      Alli Contrary

      It’s just one step closer to equality. Why is this so hard to understand? The world screams for it everyday, women and men, rights rights rights… but roll it all up in one package, where it’s about as equal as it can possibly get, and people start hemorrhaging stupidity… oh my.

      Jul 7, 2010 at 5:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DR
      DR [Different person #1 using similar name]

      @missanthrope:

      It’ll tell us if she did the honorable thing and allowed herself to be put on a level playing field via medical means or if there were back door dealings allowing her to run as a woman when she’s got the parts giving her 3-4 times the testosterone level of a biological woman.

      If it’s the former, I applaud her. If it’s the latter, I hope someone sues the hell out of the IAAF since biological women will be subjected to running against a woman with male gonads who has an unfair advantage.

      Jul 7, 2010 at 5:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • missanthrope
      missanthrope [Different person #1 using similar name]

      If it’s the former, I applaud her. If it’s the latter, I hope someone sues the hell out of the IAAF since biological women will be subjected to running against a woman with male gonads who has an unfair advantage.”

      Even if she were intersex, it’s not certain that she has “3-4 times the testosterone level of a biological woman”, in fact in the many of the most common conditions cause the endocrine system not to be able absorb testosterone.

      Maybe we should be question this draconian manner of gender policing and the separation of men and women in the sports world instead of holding an inquisition for Semenya. The Olympics dropped “gender testing” a decade ago and the IAAF should do the same.

      Jul 7, 2010 at 6:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • missanthrope
      missanthrope [Different person #1 using similar name]

      “biological woman.”

      lol, all women are biological, wtf are you talking about? What a shitty way to characterize people who aren’t cis-sexual.

      Jul 7, 2010 at 6:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • drums
      drums

      All the male competitors who lose terribly aren’t immediately given a test to see if they’re women. She’s being singled out because she’s GOOD, in a competition based on merit. God forbid only people who have physical advantages win at sports, that’s just not ~*~fair.

      Jul 7, 2010 at 7:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DR
      DR [Different person #1 using similar name]

      @missanthrope: @drums:

      The reports were clear. She was tested for steroids because she made almost unheard of gains in her run times, and lo and behold, there were the testosterone results. Too high for a biological woman. What was determined? She has a set of testes and no womb. None of that was officially denied, the only cries were “who leaked the test” and “leave her to her privacy”, a right she gave up when she entered elite running and subjected herself to a set of rules and regulations regarding her body and how it can be used and supplemented.

      Your feminist/queer liberation theory is a nice academic argument, but doesn’t pan out in the real world. We don’t expect women to compete against men because men are naturally stronger due to higher levels of testosterone (which builds bone and muscle mass), and we shouldn’t expect women to compete against an intersexed athlete who has more testosterone and therefore is faster and stronger than a biological woman when there are avenues in place to address it.

      What do we do to level the playing field? Allow biological women to take testosterone supplements? It’s not remotely appropriate to subject an entire class of female athletes to the dangers of steroid use, so the choice to me is clear. Semenya either addresses her condition medically and according to international rules such as those addressing transgendered athletes, or she shouldn’t be allowed to compete.

      Jul 7, 2010 at 9:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SouLKid
      SouLKid

      wow, the insensitivity here is appalling. For someone who sounds so informed u are one insensitive tool @DR. Are yall even aware she was only 18 years when all this happened? The girl had no idea of her medical condition even.

      And NO, being an elite athlete doesn’t mean your medical conditions have to be made public. The rules and regulations can be applied without subjecting her to any of this publicity.

      You’d think a gay man would know better. urghhh!

      Jul 7, 2010 at 9:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • lincoln
      lincoln

      Wow…what a load. Do we all remember how this got started?

      “Omg, like, I lost!! By a LOT! That’s SO not fair. It can’t be that I suck. There must be something wrong with HER.”

      Cue gender panic & crappy media hysteria.

      If she had had any medical procedures done, it would have affected her health negatively and made her less able to be the excellent athlete she is right now. So because she makes others uncomfortable (and really, that’s what all this yackety-yackety crap boils down to), she should ruin HER health just to please the bigoted cisgender world?!

      The hell with that. If her “advantage” bothers you, then train harder & YOU “have some treatments” to cure your athletic deficency.

      Caster should not have to ruin her body to make others comfortable.

      Jul 8, 2010 at 2:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DR
      DR

      @SouLKid:

      The idea that an world-class elite runner being backed by South Africa and competing in major international competitions, including worlds, without knowing she is intersexed is absolutely naive. She was investigated by the IAAF for doping because she made unheard of gains in a period of eight months. That’s when the truth came out, so to speak.

      Quite frankly, I believe someone knew, and I believe that someone tried to get her past the loopholes in the rules which aren’t prepared to deal with intersexed athletes because she was good. And they knew the real reason why she was good.

      @lincoln:

      Your comments show you know very little about sports science. Higher levels of testosterone mean you’re bigger, stronger, and faster, hence the reason we have men’s and women’s divisions. Last race I ran locally, had the men and women’s times been combined, the top female’s time would have placed her 20th (a full 6 minutes behind the top male).

      Semenya beat her competition by a full two seconds. If you look at the results of the races aside from the 800, which Semenya won, you see a very different picture, with the gold, silver, and bronze being decides by TENTHS of a second, not seconds. This isn’t the result of her training. Biological women who don’t have her levels of testosterone simply can’t compete with her. If she’s not willing to undergo the proper medical treatments, then she needs to be barred until she does.

      It’s not about comfort, but reality. But as usual, it’s easier to scream “discrimination” and “discomfort” than face cold, hard facts which make the queer folk uncomfortable. You’d rather everyone else capitulate to your demands for special treatment than play by the rules of fundamental fairness in athletic competition.

      Jul 8, 2010 at 8:52 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • missanthrope
      missanthrope [Different person #2 using similar name]

      “Your feminist/queer liberation theory is a nice academic argument, but doesn’t pan out in the real world. We don’t expect women to compete against men because men are naturally stronger due to higher levels of testosterone (which builds bone and muscle mass)”

      Does she have the receptors to process that testostorone? You may be a runner, but do you know a little bit about endocrine system? If free floating testosterone can’t bind to a androgen receptor and turned in AR-DHT to have an effect. You’ve never addressed this point.

      Which goes to my larger point, namely that the actions taken by IAAF are were arbitrary, harmful and more concerned with gender policing than any sense of fairness. They didn’t test her because as you say;

      ” She was tested for steroids because she made almost unheard of gains in her run times, and lo and behold, there were the testosterone results.”

      First they tested her because she has “large muscles and a male build”, then the testosterone was found. And we don’t even know much about her test because the test hasn’t been released, not even leaked. All of the information you’re citing as to her physical status is based on the un-named newspaper sources and conjecture by the sports media.

      And what about natural variation of testosterone in cisgender women, how much is too much? Fifty ng/db of testosterone? 100 ng/db? Nobody I’ve asked in biology or physiology knows since there hasn’t been any studies done to confirm how much an effect it has. The IAAF is groping around in the dark about this and that’s why the Olypmics stopped this idiotic testing a decade ago.

      That’s not to say it doesn’t have an effect, testosterone levels clearly do. But christ some could be suffering from hypogonadism and we wouldn’t know because there’s no science to tell us how much is to much. If this issue was solely about fairness, you’d be advocating that every one was tested for extra testosterone.

      And can you desist with the term “biological woman”, it’s insulting. I wasn’t born a woman, but I am for sure biological.

      Jul 8, 2010 at 6:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • drums
      drums

      I don’t watch track to see everyone tie for first–I’m in it to see someone WIN. The competitors are all either taller or shorter, have longer or shorter limbs, bigger or smaller lung capacity, more or less testosterone, more or less adrenaline, better or worse mental state, etc. The point is to see which combo wins. If you want a “level playing field”, then watching a race where people get ranked according to what advantages they have is the wrong passtime for you. Did you see Usain Bolt DEMOLISH his competition? Should he be asked to surgically remove a few inches off his legs so it’s more “fair” for the other runners?
      In many other areas of life, Semenya’s condition would be considered an abnormality or undesirable or something that needs to be “fixed”. She’s found an arena where it’s an advantage instead. Good for her. More power to her.

      Jul 9, 2010 at 1:01 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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