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Active Expert: Bruce Hildenbrand

1 Post tagged with the castor_semenya tag

OK. So this topic isn't about bike racing, but we have put up with enough drama surrounding the drug testing in cycling that there is a close parallel to what is happening in track and field.


As a quick refresher... the gender of Castor Semenya, a South African 800-meter runner, was called into question after she easily defeated the entire field at the recent Track and Field World Championships. After the Worlds, the IAAF, the governing body of the sport of athletics(AKA track and field) ordered that Semenya undergo tests to determine if she really is a female.


Unfortunately, this isn't as simple as disrobing; there are a number of hormones that should and shouldn't be present (and a certain levels) for each gender. Also, some gender-specific physical characteristics may not be visible without the use of diagnostic equipment which looks inside a person's body.


The track and field community was awaiting the results of Semenya's gender tests to decide the fate of her World Championship gold medal and her career for that matter. Unfortunately, the IAAF announced that it had made a deal with the South African government and Semenya's lawyers to not only allow Semenya to keep her gold medal, but to also keep the results of Semenya's gender tests secret.


First off, I don't know who the IAAF is kidding. The results of the tests will not be secret for long once the 2010 track and field season begins. Either Semenya will or won't be competing as a female.


Secondly, it is pretty clear that the IAAF was caught completely off-guard by the Semenya case.  As I stated before, a gender test is not as simple as just dropping 'trow'. It appears that the IAAF had no plan in place to handle situations where gender determination was difficult.


Thirdly, we can argue that we are all god's creatures and if Semenya got some sort of genetic boost then so be it, but the IAAF is a sanctioning body for sport and they need to have rules to govern their sanctioned events. It seems that one of the rules they need to enact, in short order, concerns gender determination.


It is pointless to place blame in the Semenya situation. What has been exposed is a need for a better clarification (read 'rules') to allow sport to be as fair as possible to all athletes. Rather than drag this out, I hope that the IAAF and all other governing bodies of sports are working to make a set of rules which prevent this situation from happening again. I am not taking sides. I just want it to be clear what's right and what's not.



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