By Mark A. Upaa
South African super woman, Caster Semenaya has been informed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport; that she will hence forth be required to take regular doses of ‘kryptonite’ in order to surpress her naturally high levels of testosterone ptoduction, if she wants to continue to compete in certain distance races at international competitions.
A double Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion over 800m, the 28-year-old South African has won her past 29 races over the 400m distance. Since her rise from obscure teenage prodigy to world champion in 2009, her gender, and the possible advantages in her physiology, have been under intense scrutiny. However the results of an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) mandated gender test carried out 10 years ago have never been made public. But there are widely circulated media reports which claime she showed both male and female characteristics including a higher-than-normal level of testosterone.
Since then, the international media has been rife with speculation, and some have gone as far as describing her condition as ‘Differences of Sex Development’ (DSD). People with a DSD do not develop along typical gender lines. Their hormones, genes, and even reproductive organs may be a mix of both male and female characteristics. The term “disorders” is viewed as controversial with some of those affected preferring the term “intersex” and referring to the condition as “differences in sex development”. Most people with a DSD stay with the gender they were assigned as a baby. However others, who feel their assigned gender doesn’t represent who they are, have chosen to undergo gender re-assignment therapy. People with a DSD may be infertile and need hormone therapy and psychological support to help them come to terms with their condition.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport, the highest court in international sports, ruled on Wednesday that women with naturally elevated testosterone levels must take drugs to suppress that if they want to compete in certain running distances at the international level. The ruling marks a defeat for two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya, who had taken the International Association of Athletics Federations to court over its rules limiting naturally occurring testosterone in female athletes. Semenya, a South African athlete who has won two Olympic gold medals in the 800m, has what the IAAF and CAS call “differences of sexual development,” which means her body produces more testosterone than most women.
The three-person panel ruled 2-1 in the IAAF’s favor, saying that while the testosterone regulations are discriminatory, they’re necessary to preserve the “integrity” of certain female running events. The Panel found that the DSD Regulations are discriminatory but the majority of the Panel found that, on the basis of the evidence submitted by the parties, such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics in the Restricted Events, particularly those between the distance of 400 meters and a mile. The IAAF’s regulations are expected to go into effect in seven days.