New Obstacles for Sprinter Aminatou Seyni

Aminatou Seyni is a 23 year old Nigerien Sprinter training for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo which are currently suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Seyni is currently facing the possibility that she may not be allowed to compete in her favourite event in the next Olympics as a result of refusing to take hormone supplements for her elevated testosterone levels.

Aminatou Seyni leads home Kazakhstan’s Olga Safronova (centre) and Germany’s Tatjana Pinto (left) in the 200m heats. Picture: AFP
Aminatou Seyni leading Kazakhstan’s Olga Safronova (centre) and Germany’s Tatjana Pinto (left) in the 200m heats (Source: AFP)

Seyni competes in the 100, 200 and 400m races, her favourite race to compete in being the 400m. In 2019, Seyni ran the fifth fastest time in the 400m. In 2018, World Athletics set a testosterone cap for races between 400m to a mile, arguing that female athletes that have higher levels of androgrens will have the most unfair advantages when it comes to those distances. This will likely keep Seyni restricted to competing in only the 200m race in the next Olympics. As Seyni says, “I feel a little bit sad because if I ran the 400 metres I could have won a medal, but for the 200 there are a lot of athletes that are better developed”.

In November, Seyni was barred from competing in the 400m during the World Championships in Doha after having a break out season the previous year. Despite challenges, Seyni is still facing, she still remains focused on capturing a medal in the Olympics in the 100m or 200m. Bringing her country a medal in one of these events would be the only medal since 1972 for her country. Seyni states “I only want to concentrate on the 100 and 200 to see how it goes, because it’s different, I’ll do my best to see if I can win a medal.”

In an article critiquing the new policies on hyperandrogenism in female athletes, there were questions on the flawed policies put into place: Performance in sports is both a “celebration of and a challenge posed by our embodiment”. All bodies, to one degree or another, present functional limitations and “sports provide an opportunity to live fully in those bodies, to test their capabilities and limits, and to integrate them with our will, intellect, and character”. Thus, “We need to move beyond policing biologically natural bodies and the resultant exceptional scrutiny of extraordinary women.”


Featured Image: Sprinter Aminatou Seyni in Doha (Image Source)

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