A Nation Stands By Caster Semenya While She Gets ‘Gender Verified’


Track star Caster Semenya stands accused of being a biological male, because she’s whooping the crap out of her lady competitors around the world. So she’s being tested by the International Association of Athletics Federations to see if she is really a he, which is exactly as invasive and uncomfortable as it sounds. Either way, South Africans are standing by her, whether Semenya is M or F, or somewhere in between.

Some 3,000 supporters welcomed the 800m champ home from Berlin; even President Jacob Zuma has her back. Mr. Zuma is an acquitted rapist, we might add. And South Africa, while better than, say, Uganda, is not exactly a beacon of gay tolerance at the state level. So it’s quite interesting to see the country get behind someone accused of being transgender. Then again, national athletic pride is a higher commodity than worrying about gender status.

But just because Semenya is getting love from home doesn’t leave her in the clear. Preliminary results, via an unauthorized leak, show Semenya has elevated testosterone levels, which doesn’t mean she’s a dude, but will raise questions about unfair competitive advantages.

And to make the scandal even more, uh, scandalous, there’s this:

Telegraph Sport can also reveal that the head coach of the South African team is Dr Ekkart Arbeit, the former East German coach who was accused by a female athlete of giving her so many anabolic steroids that she was forced to undergo a sex-change operation and live the rest of her life as a man.

Although it is unclear how closely Arbeit has been working with Semenya, news of his position will raise concerns with the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Uh. Seriously?

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  • Cam

    People are being stupid, the high levels of testosterone her tests showed aren’t because she is a man…the answer is very simple. Here is a clip from an article about who her coach is, he was one of the old East German coaches who admitted to giving massive amounts of Steroids to his female runners to improve their speed…

    New tempests of controversy swirled Tuesday around Caster Semenya, the 18-year-old South African running sensation whose record-breaking performances have prompted a “gender verification” test, and whose coach is Ekkart Arbeit, disgraced years ago for his lead role in the systematic doping programs of East German sports in the 1970s and ’80s.
    Arbeit and other coaches were prosecuted in the ’90s for giving heavy regimens of anabolic steroids to athletes he coached in East Germany’s state-sponsored sports apparatus during the Cold War. Unlike many other coaches and trainers, Arbeit confessed to his role in the program. One of Arbeit’s athletes, Heidi Krieger, accused Arbeit of giving her so many drugs that she was forced to become a man, undergoing sex-change operations and adopting a male identity as Andreas Krieger.

    This has nothing to do with gender, it is just a good old fashioned doping controversy.

  • Kropotkin

    Not only this really stupid, it’s really sexist. This is nothing new, questions have been raised about the gender of female olympic athletes since the 1930s and it always seems to start happening when they start winning. So now we have these ridiculous “gender tests” and they’re almost always conducted on female athletes.

  • Cam

    you said…”So now we have these ridiculous “gender tests” and they’re almost always conducted on female athletes.”

    Trust me, if a male athlete was running around with a full set of breasts they would conduct a test.

  • CitizenGeek

    I don’t really see it as being sexist or bigoted to be honest. Men are physically much stronger than women and that’s why it would be unfair to hold a race for women and include a man in that, irrespective of whether that biological male identifies as female or not. It’s just about fairness, really.

  • dgz

    her coach is an East German?! oy. definitely steroids.

    of course, almost all world-class athletes take steroids, so i shouldn’t be too surprised. no one ever seems to stop and think, “gee i wonder why many new records are set every year.”

    we’re not exactly bred like racehorses, and even their times have stabilized.

  • Cam

    @dgz: you said “we’re not exactly bred like racehorses, and even their times have stabilized.”

    Ecellent point. In fact, the fact that the Chinese team broke the last records held by former East Germany in one event lead to a steroid investigation just based on the fact that the East Germans were so doped up that nobody had even touched those records in ages until the Chinese team did. And yes, they found massive doping.

  • SparklePlenty

    When you look at the photo of the last moments of the race, all the women runners’ biceps look nearly identical except for Caster’s biceps, which have a pronounced masculine musculature. Either Caster is a man by birth or by steroids, but no woman has musculature like that.

  • Zoe Brain

    So much ignorance, so little time….

    1. The East German doper Eckart Arbeit is the head coach of Athletics South Africa. He’s not Ms Semenya’s coach. Could she have been a victim of doping over many years? Not completely impossible, just extremely unlikely. If so, I doubt Eckart Arbeit had anything to do with it, he’s too far up the food chain (and too savvy to get caught).

    2. There’s a number of medical conditions that can cause a slight raise in testosterone compared to most women. Some, such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, can lead to facial hair for example, but are not congenital. Others, such as Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, can lead to various degrees of masculinisation. One that we can definitely rule out is CAI syndrome – complete androgen insensitivity. This syndrome precludes and trace of masculinisation, even in women with the 46xy chromosomes normally only found in men.

    3. Given the lack of comment about Ms Semenya’s female body configuration by those who have shared locker-room facilities with her, and her female birth certificate, she’s looked externally female since birth. The allegations about how she “could have had a sex change” betray a complete ignorance about the subject.

    Given the misinformation and misunderstanding of transsexual issues amongst the Gay movement (too often Gay rather than GLB let alone GLBT), it’s not surprising that intersex issues are even less well understood.

  • Georgette

    Caster Semenya would never have been subject this global ridicule if she had lost the race. As her nation stands by her, so should all us BLACK sisters and brother’s. Caster girl — As a black sister I am proud of you. Be who u are and who you are comfortable with.

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