Caster Semenya in Case with IAAF: High Testosterone Levels Supposedly an Unfair Advantage

Caster Semenya, a South African track and field phenom, is in a race to the finish line with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) . This two-time Olympic medalist and three-time Olympic World Champion is being accused of having an advantage compared to other competitors, due to her high levels of testosterone. Semenya is said to not be a transgender but called another term known as “intersex”, which is a medical condition in which a “person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.” Semenya is thought to have XY (male) chromosomes in her biological make-up, but this assumption is not entirely confirmed. It is rumoured that this may cause her to obtain higher levels of testosterone, producing a excelled performance.

Nike who sponsors her is still supporting her and will continue to do so throughout the process.

This is now being handled by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the IAAF. The IAAF view this condition as an advantage to her athletic ability and performance. She is not only facing backlash from the IAAF but, society has now labeled her as being manly and questioning her femininity. She knows she is a woman and she is being depicted as manly over a condition she can’t control.

Semenya at the top (Source: Saeed Khan/ Getty)

The IAAF say that she should not be qualified to compete in women’s sporting events. This case took place in March of this year, and it was revised and, ultimately, she lost her case, which resulted in her not participating in the 2019 World Championships. It is unlikely that she will be back to her sport. The treatment she is facing due to her condition is degrading towards her and the rest of women. Semenya knows her identity and has never questioned her gender, yet she is feeling the societal pressures to over-conform to her sport.


Featured image: Semenya winning the 800m (Source: Mark Shearman/Athletics weekly)

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