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The Curious Case of CASTER SEMENYA…

Filed under : Africa, Art & Culture, Sports

Caster Semenya

The main issue is that CASTER SEMENYA went from being a random competitor who didn’t have any significant times or results AT ALL, to someone who was trailblazing and leaving world class athletes at LEAST 2.45 seconds behind her! That’s A LOT! She also massively cut her times and was winning whatever was being thrown at her. Add to that, the dramatic change in physique and the deep voice that she suddenly had, and the questions came out.

It’s not that they think she’s a man.

But if you’re undergoing hormone treatments or even start taking excessive levels of testosterone, your body will change! That’s the whole premise of hormone replacement therapy. You take on more masculine traits while retaining your ‘camel toe’! It’s what “female to male gender reassignment” people do, or vice versa.

The upshot is that your hormonal composition, to qualify as biologically female, has to fall within certain parameters. If she’s dosing herself on testosterone to facilitate that uber strength that a female of her size, age and build would not ordinarily be able to attain NATURALLY, then she technically, cannot compete against other women. No-one’s saying she’s smuggling salami or anything. It’s about the biological composition.

Testosterone isn’t an illegal drug in the steroids sense, but it does impart significant advantages if you’re a woman and start exhibiting masculine attribute such as super strength, in a sporting discipline where that profers a distinct advantage over what the rest of the competitors enjoy.

I have been really intrigued/disturbed/concerned by it all, but also really interested because hormones are natural so can’t really be classified as drug abuse… if this slides though, the ramifications for all women’s disciplines could be HUGE! specially where physical strength comes into play. Swimmers, Javelin events, shotput… I don’t think people realise just how massive the impact of this IAAF decision could be. If she passes, then why would ANY ambitious athlete not dose up on ‘natural’ hormones which occur anyway but in much lower doses in females, just to gain that competitive edge?

If she fails, could that be tantamount to discrimination against transexuals or those who’re in the process of gender reassignment but are still legally classified as female? Very interesting… and where would they compete? Would they be expected to compete alongside ‘other’ males? More than that, there are many disorders where hormone imbalance, including testosterone, occurs naturally!

Adrenal gland disorders, ovarian problems, often caused by other hormonal imbalances, create excesively high testosterone levels. A common example of a disease which has this effect is Polycystic Ovarian Syndromes, which causes high testosterone. More than that, Phenytoin, also known as Dilantin, a drug used to treat epilepsy ALSO causes increased levels of testosterone. If that’s the only treatment option that’s working for you as an epileptic, should that spell the end of your athletic career? Would victims of what is essentially an illness, also be sidelined and treated in the same way, ie forced to compete with males? It’s HUUUUUGE! People are dismissing it as a “are they suggesting she looks like a dude and has a penis?” issue but it is sooooo much more! I’m sure they appreciate the magnitude of the issue, but so far, no-one’s DARED to explain just how far this issue and this investigation goes! I’m sure they WISH it was a case of having her GP get her to strip naked! [smile!]

If all this is down to a medical condition which she wasn’t aware of and not under any compulsion to disclose, nor would she or could she be held ‘accountable’ for the effects of this illness, then what? …. Kick her out for being sick?

Tricky choice…

U.K. Guest Contributor & soon-to-be-author!: Mari-Anne Chiromo

Photo: You Magazine

farai – who has written posts on Farai Today.

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