Tag Archives: Beatrice Masilingi

Caster Semenya slams African athletics leaders

Two-time Olympic and three-time world champion Caster Semenya has branded leaders in African athletics “cowards” for failing to stand up and fight for female athletes who are facing eligibility issues.

The 31-year-old is barred from competing in her preferred 800m race by World Athletics’ differences of sexual development (DSD) rules introduced in 2019.

Athletes with high testosterone are required to medically lower their levels in order to compete in events between 400m and 1500m.

“I think that, in this day, we have coward leaders,” Semenya said.

“In this continent, people are quiet. I don’t know why they’re quiet. They’re not fighting for their own athletes.

“You have got to show up and work, fight for your athletes, and then African athletics will be great. At this moment it’s disappointing.”

When asked by BBC Sport Africa about Semenya’s comments and whether African athletics leadership has done enough for its athletes, Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) president Malboum Kalkaba said: “Sorry, I do not have an answer”.

Similar cases across continent

Several other African athletes have been affected by the DSD rules, including Burundi’s Olympic silver medallist Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and her fellow 800m runner Margaret Wambui of Kenya.

Last year, two Namibian teenagers, Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, were forced to step down from the 400m weeks before the Tokyo Olympics after they were informed of their elevated testosterone levels.

Both Mboma and Masilingi ended up competing in the 200m in Japan, with Mboma winning historic Olympic silver for her country.

However, Semenya, who now competes over 5000m, has questioned African leadership’s handling of the teenagers’ situation as well as its relative “silence” on the DSD matter in general.

“When I was 18, I couldn’t speak up,” the South African said. “Now I’m mature enough, I can speak.

“Imagine what was going on through those kids’ minds. They can’t do anything, but the leaders are just sitting out there enjoying the privileges, being in the boardrooms.”

CAA director general Lamine Faty said Semenya “has the right to express her sentiments” and that concerns over DSD rules were raised by the organisation a “long time ago” and were discussed again recently at a CAA council meeting in Mauritius.

A debate about eligibility in women’s sports has been heating up, with the recent focus being on the status of transgender athletes.

Last week, World Athletics president Seb Coe hinted his organisation could follow swimming in banning transgender women from elite female competitions, insisting “fairness is non-negotiable”.

“We continue to study, research and contribute to the growing body of evidence that testosterone is a key determinant in performance, and have scheduled a discussion on our regulations with our council at the end of the year,” he told BBC Sport.

‘We are never going to stop fighting’

Champion over 800m at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, Semenya has previously challenged World Athletics’ rules but lost her case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2019.

She then lost an appeal and was defeated at Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court a year later, before going to the European Court of Human Rights where her case has yet to be heard.

“We are never going to stop fighting,” she said.

“At the moment it is not about me, it’s about the young kids that are coming up now that are going to face the same problem.

“There are a lot of kids that want to compete in 400m, in 800m and in 1500m, but they cannot be included.

“They say sport is for all, but at the moment it’s not for all.”

Christine Mboma sets junior world record in Zurich

Namibian teenage sensation Christine Mboma, continued her sparkling season with victory in the 200m that was held at the finals of the Wanda Diamond League series that was held on Thursday (9) night in Zurich.

Mboma set a new junior world record on Thursday night when she won the women’s 200m final at Wanda Diamond League held at the Weltklasse meeting.

The Namibian athlete clocked 21.78 seconds to set a new junior world record and beat a strong field that included Shericka Jackson of Jamaica and Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith.

Jackson was relegated to second place, with a personal-best time of 21.81 seconds followed by Asher-Smith in third place after clocking 22.19.

Mboma is classified as having Differences in sexual development (DSD) — or being an “intersex” athlete — with naturally high testosterone levels and is thus barred from her chosen event, the 400m.

This regulations barred the female athletes – including South African star Caster Semenya — who have what the athletics body called “high levels of endogenous testosterone” from competing on the international stage unless they maintained low blood testosterone levels.

Blood serum tests conducted in June confirmed that both Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi had levels of endogenous testosterone above the World Athletics-mandated limit of 5 nanomoles of serum testosterone per litre.

They were forced to stop competing in 400m races and have since been running in 200m dashes.

 

Christine Mboma stuns stars in 200m race in Brussels

Namibia’s Christine Mboma was the standout performer on Friday night at the Allianz Memorial Van Damme in the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, Belgium.

The Tokyo silver medallist produced her trademark fast finish to win in 21.84, the same time as she recorded in the U20 World Championship in Nairobi two weeks ago and just three-hundredths outside her world junior record set in the Tokyo final.

Mboma, who had to step down to 200m due to World Athletics’ rules relating to naturally high testosterone levels in women, said: “It was my first Diamond League experience and to be able to win in such a strong field is great.

The 18 year-old has now gone sub-22 four times in the women’s 200m in 2021(21.97, 21.81, 21.84. 21.84).

“I’m really happy with this win because it’s my first Diamond League race,” said Mboma. “To be able to win in such a strong field is great.

“It has been a very tough and busy season with the Olympics and the world junior championships, but I’m still in good shape.”

Jamaica’s double Olympic medallist Shericka Jackson was second in 21.95 with reigning world champion Dina Asher-Smith coming home in third place in season’s best of 22.04.

World U20 silver medallist Champion Beatrice Masilingi also from Namibia finished in a distant fifth place in 22.50.

Sylvester Simiyu and Mercy Chebet knocked out of 100m race at World U20

Kenyan Sprinters Sylvester Simiyu and Mercy Chebet failed in their quest to win a medal at the world under 20 championships at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani.

The duo, competing in 100m, were knocked out of the championships after Simiyu crossed the line 5th place in heat six.

Despite losing, simiyu was happy that he has managed his personal best in his category.

Sylvester Simiyu reacts after failing to qualify to the next round. PHOTO: Kelly Ayodi/ Sport Picha Ltd.

Chebet managed to pull 12.39 in her heat failing to cut the cut in a race that Namibia’s Beatrice Masilingi managed to break the National U20 record when she clocked 11.20.

Namibian sprinters resurrect ‘paradox’ of DSD rules

The presence of Namibian teenagers Beatrice Masilingi and Christine Mboma in the Olympic women’s 200 metres final weeks after they were banned from the 400m due to excess levels of testosterone has reopened the debate about DSD athletes.

The two 18-year-olds are the latest to fall foul of the rules regarding female athletes with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD) after more than a decade of the sport’s authorities wrestling with the issue.

A DSD or intersex athlete is broadly described as one who has XY sex chromosomes, has a blood testosterone level in the male range and has the ability to use testosterone circulating within their bodies.

World Athletics (WA) tried to find a way to restrict such athletes from taking part in women’s races in a bid to protect what they described as the “level playing field”, bringing about the Hyperandrogenism Regulations in 2011, which set a testosterone limit for women athletes.

Indian sprinter Dutee Chand challenged the rules at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in 2015, and CAS suspended them, asking WA to produce evidence that increased testosterone levels gave athletes an advantage.

In the meantime, with the rules lifted, Caster Semenya and others were able to return to the track, with three DSD athletes sweeping the 800m medals at the Rio Olympics.

WA returned with data, widely criticised by some in the scientific community, to show there was an advantage in events ranging from 400m to a mile. They believed there was an advantage in longer and shorter events, but could not back it up, and reserved the right to add further events once they had more evidence.

CAS accepted this and in 2018, a new version of the rules banned DSD athletes from competing in races within that range, unless they took testosterone-reducing medication for at least six months beforehand.

‘PARADOX IN ACTION’

South African Semenya had been at the forefront of the battle since she blazed onto the scene by winning the 800m at 2009 world championships as an 18-year-old, and was immediately consumed by the debate over her gender status.

After she was banned, she initially followed that medical route but saw a marked deterioration in her performances, and instead returned to fighting for the right to race in her natural state.

She lost that battle – all three 800m medallists from Rio are banned from Tokyo – despite widespread support from the South African government, who claimed the rules were discriminatory towards African athletes, and others who argued they were a violation of her human rights.

CAS agreed the DSD rules were discriminatory but crucially ruled that the discrimination was “necessary, reasonable and proportionate to protect the integrity of female athletics”.

WA had always said it was fundamentally impossible to find a solution that would satisfy both sides, and came down in support of the tens of thousands of female athletes around the world at the expense of the limited number of DSD athletes.

“It is a sensitive issue but there are some contexts, sport being one of them, where biology has to trump identity,” WA said.

The issue appeared to have gone quiet after Semenya lost her latest court battle in Switzerland, but it re-emerged in June when Masilingi and Mboma, who had been in sparkling form on the European circuit, were withdrawn from the Tokyo 400m events after tests revealed above-regulation levels of testosterone.

They entered the 200m instead and have twice posted personal best times – Mboma’s 21.97 seconds being an under-20 world record – to reach Tuesday’s final.

“The paradox in action … where we know that testosterone confers advantages in all events, but the policy implies it exists only in some,” wrote South African sports scientist Ross Tucker in his Science of Sport blog.

“Thus an athlete is legal one day, illegal the next, depending on the event,” added Tucker, who described WA’s original study as “poorly conceived … and very (very, very) weak on the evidence.”