Tag Archives: Caster Semenya

Athing Mu eyes Caster Semenya World Record

Olympic 800m champion, Athing Mu will lead a deep filed of elite athletes at the Penn Relays that will be held on Saturday (30) at the historic Franklin Field in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

The star-studded rich field includes Ajee Wilson of the United States, who recently won the World Indoor 800m, and Jamaica’s Natoya Goule, who was a finalist at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 19-year-old last year set a personal best in 800m of 1:55.04 and she also carries the fourth fastest all-time in the 600m of 1:24.13 that she got early this year in Temple, Arizona. Mu also holds an incredible 400m lifetime best of 49.57 that she got last year in Hayward Field.

Mu holds the world U20 best in the Indoor 600m that she set in 2019 when she was 16 years of age. Her time of 1:23.57 is the second fastest ever run Indoors and the second fastest run by an American woman in any condition.

Mu would be a potential threat to the 600m World Record of 1:21.77 that was set in 2017 by Caster Semenya from South Africa.

The 2019 Pan American U20 Champion, will battle for honors with the 2017 World bronze medallist Ajee Wilson, who also took the World 800m Indoor tile early this year. The 27 year-old comes to this race with a lifetime best of 1:25.59 that she got in February. Wilson holds a personal best time in 600m of 1:22.39, which is the second-fastest time of all time.

The 2019 Pan American Games champion, Natoya Goule will also be in contention as she comes with a personal best of 51.52 in 400m and 1:56.15in 800m which is a Jamaican National Record.

Caster Semenya slams World Athletics

Double Olympic women’s 800m champion, Caster Semenya has slammed the World Athletics (WA) in a scathing post on her social media page.

Semenya is not allowed to compete across a number of distances due to the World Athletics regulations for athletes with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD).

The 31 year-old is prohibited from competing in distances from 400m to mile, but can race across 100m, 200m and any event further than 1600m.

Through her social media handle, twitter, she claimed that there was a lack of logic in the regulations.

“So according to World Athletics and its members, I’m a male when it comes to 400m, 800m, 1500m and 1600m,” she wrote.

“Then a female in 100m, 200m, and long distance events. What a research. What kind of a fool would do that?”

The World Athletics regulations, implemented in 2018, prohibit athletes with DSD from competing between 400m and a mile unless they take hormone-reducing drugs.

After unsuccessful appeals at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court, the South African super star is waiting for the hearing at the European Court of Human Rights.

Last week she ran her fastest ever women’s 3000m race at the Athletics South Africa Grand Prix, clocking a lifetime best of 8:54.97 over the distance.

In November WA confirmed that it would not be changing its regulations, even after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued a new framework for transgender and DSD athletes.

Semenya missed out on her target of 15:10.00 which meant she didn’t qualify for the Olympics after finishing in fourth place in a 5000m meet in Belgium in a time of 15:50.12 in June 2021.

A new personal best for Caster Semenya in 3000m

Two times 800m Olympic gold medallist, Caster Semenya lived to the expectations as she ran her fastest ever women’s 3000m race at the 2nd edition of the Athletics South Africa Grand Prix that was held on Wednesday (23) in Cape Town, South Africa.

This was Semenya’s second major race this season as she trailed early leader Kyla Jacobs before making the decisive move with two laps to go and forged ahead cutting the tape in a new personal best of 8:54.97.

The 31 years-old

“The run was a little bit tricky,” she told reporters after her victory. “Fortunately before the start, the wind died down a bit and worked in our favor. It was a great race, happy with the result.”

Semenya was followed by Aynslee Van Graan who clocked 9:09.63 with Glenrose Xaba closing the first three podium finishes in 9:12.51.

The triple 800m world champion’s previous personal best over the distance 9:04:20 that she got at Potchefstroom in May 2021 when she was chasing qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021.

She missed out on her target of 15:10.00 which meant she didn’t qualify for the Olympics after finishing in fourth place in a 5000m meet in Belgium in 15:50.12 in June 2021.

LEADING RESULTS

3000M WOMEN

  1. Caster Semenya        8:54.97
  2. Aynslee van Graan   9:09:63
  3. Glenrose Xaba          9:12.51

Caster Semenya to open 2022 season with a 3000m Race

Double Olympic women’s 800m champion will return to competitive racing for the first time since June 30, 2021 when she failed to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

Caster Semenya returns to competitive distance running on Wednesday (23 March), nearly 10 months after failing to achieve the qualifying mark for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

The two-time 800m Olympic champion, who scaled up to the longer distances due to the World Athletics’ testosterone rules, will line-up in the women’s 3000m at the second meeting of the Athletics South Africa Grand Prix, at Greenpoint Athletics Stadium in Cape Town.

The South African will be up against local stars, led by former national 5000m champion and two-time world cross country finalist Kesa Molotsane, plus her training partner Glenrose Xaba, a seasoned long-distance runner.

Semenya hasn’t raced competitively since 30 June 2021, when she finished in fourth place in a 5000m meet in Belgium in 15:50.12, missing out on her targeted 15:10.00 which meant she didn’t qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021.

The South African 5000m national champion, who raced to her personal best of 15:32.15 in May 2021 has since spent most of her time off the track coaching athletes at the Masai Athletics Club which operates with her wife Violet, in Pretoria and Soweto.

Semenya’s background

In May 2019, a World Athletics eligibility ruling came into effect which prevents female athletes with Differences in Sexual Development (DSD) from competing in women’s events from 400m to one mile (1600m), unless they reduce their testosterone levels.

The 31-year-old Semenya vowed following that ruling that she would not take any testosterone suppressing medication, terming the rules discriminatory and unfair.

The runner challenged the World Athletics rules and lost the cases at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2019 and at the Swiss Federal Supreme court in 2020. She then moved a third lawsuit in the European Court of Human Rights in February 2021.

The triple 800m world champion shifted her focus on the 5000m, having originally decided to go for the 200m in March 2020.

Semenya won the women’s 800m titles at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics.

Source: olympics.com

Sex verification in sport: the sidelining of intersex athletes

Sex verification in sport has been debated for decades, with the likes of Ewa Kłobukowska and Caster Semenya being banned from women’s sports in the process. As more athletes were prohibited from competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics earlier this year, the debate is far from over.

Regulations have evolved over the years, as our understanding of sex and intersexuality progresses. Sex verification was initially in the form of physical examinations during the 1960s, then replaced by genetic tests. At the 2012 London Olympics, a new regulation was put in place, whereby eligibility to compete in the female classification depended on an athlete’s testosterone levels.

The legislation was hugely unpopular, with the appeal of Indian sprinter Dutee Chand resulting in the regulation’s suspension. It was determined that there was insufficient evidence to show that elevated testosterone levels give athletes a sporting advantage. Testosterone can certainly induce muscle growth, but in many sports other skills, namely agility and coordination, shape the level of an athlete’s success.

As a result of Chand’s successful appeal, researchers funded by World Athletics, formerly known as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), published studies claiming that higher testosterone levels confer a significant sporting advantage in 400m to 1-mile running events. Despite some criticising the integrity of the data, new regulations were implemented based on this evidence in 2018. It mandated female athletes with ‘Differences in Sex Development’ (DSDs) to lower their testosterone levels if they choose to compete in the female classification of such events.

The legislation was challenged by intersex athlete Caster Semenya back in May 2019: “Excluding female athletes or endangering our health solely because of our natural abilities puts World Athletics on the wrong side of history”.

In response, the regulations were upheld, as the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) ruled the differential treatment of intersex athletes “necessary, reasonable and proportionate”. At this year’s Tokyo Games, the eligibility of athletes was determined by individual sporting federations.

“Therefore, contrary to popular belief, sex is not binary. Such variations may be uncommon in the general population, but some have suggested that intersexuality is far more common amongst elite athletes”

Before proceeding any further, it should be pointed out that intersexuality is different to transgenderism. Intersex people are born with ambiguous sex, while transgender people feel their gender and sex are misaligned. Consequently, the regulations are different for the two situations, and this article focuses strictly on the former.

The science behind World Athletics’ legislation

It’s commonly accepted that gender is an individual choice of identification, while sex is an unalterable, congenital trait. The definition of sex is multi-faceted: genetic sex is the possession of XY chromosomes in males and XX chromosomes in females, gonadal sex is the possession of testes in males and ovaries in females, and anatomic sex is the possession of penises for males and vaginas for females.

In most cases, sex differentiation is straightforward: females will inherit XX chromosomes, which means they subsequently develop ovaries and a vagina, with the opposite being true for males.

However, in a minority of cases, some individuals can possess a mixture of both male and female biological traits. For example, they may have XX chromosomes and ovaries yet have external genitalia somewhat resembling a penis. These deviations from biological expectation are known as intersexuality, or DSDs. Therefore, contrary to popular belief, sex is not binary. Such variations may be uncommon in the general population, but some have suggested that intersexuality is far more common amongst elite athletes.

The newest World Athletics eligibility regulations only apply to intersex athletes. Non-intersex women with testosterone levels above the 5nmol/L limit are not required to lower their testosterone production in order to compete in the female category. Although it’s recognised that non-intersex women can also have elevated testosterone levels, especially those suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome or adrenal tumours, their levels rarely exceed the 5nmol/L limit. Furthermore, there is ambiguity in the regulations, such that intersex athletes with some specific DSD variations might arbitrarily be exempt too.

 What are the aims of the DSD regulations?

Records show that there is a performance difference between men and women in most sports. No doubt, non-physiological factors such as funding contribute to the gap, but biological factors undeniably play a role too. World Athletics believes that the higher testosterone levels in men are the main reason for their sporting advantage over females. However, this argument may be flawed given that higher testosterone levels only correlate with better performance in a limited range of running events.

“When athletes are segregated into male and female classifications, those in the middle of the spectrum, or those who are intersex, will inevitably be treated differently compared to non-intersex athletes”

The aim of the DSD regulations was not to verify sex; it was to distinguish athletes with a competitive advantage from those without. Yet, by permitting non-intersex female athletes to have a testosterone level exceeding the 5nmol/L limit, the governing body is not separating athletes into the male and female classifications solely according to testosterone levels. In fact, the organisation is seeking to define and verify sex.

Testosterone is one of the key factors that determine anatomic sex and, as its levels rise, an individual’s sexual characteristics become increasingly masculine. But at what specific point on this spectrum does a woman become a man? Any line drawn to segregate males and females will be arbitrary. Moreover, the definition of sex is evidently complicated, given that genetic, gonadal, and anatomic sex can be independent of each other in intersex individuals.

When athletes are segregated into male and female classifications, those in the middle of the spectrum, or those who are intersex, will inevitably be treated differently compared to non-intersex athletes.

By definition, intersex individuals do not fit into the binary constructs of the male and female sexes. It is therefore problematic to think of intersex athletes simply as females with an inborn sporting advantage due to their increased testosterone levels.

 Striking a balance between sporting integrity and intersex rights

 One proposed solution is the creation of a third classification in sports. However, such a decision would risk alienating athletes with DSDs, as for some their intersexuality does not become known until puberty or even during adulthood.

They may have been raised as a certain sex their entire life, and therefore forcing them to compete in a completely separate category of competition would be both unfair and unethical. Additionally, the terms ‘DSD’ and ‘intersexuality’ broadly cover many different types of biological variations, making it hugely problematic to subject all intersex athletes to standardized regulations.

There is no simple answer to this debate, and a satisfactory solution will not be found in the foreseeable future; our scientific knowledge simply remains lacking, especially in the field of athletic performance. A good first step would be to eliminate the non-physiological contributors to performance differences between the sexes by increasing both the investment in and marketing of women’s sport.

As a result, the physiological contributors to performance differences would be better elucidated and thus inform policy making. Meanwhile, World Athletics must address the ambiguities and contradictions in its existing DSD regulations.

But most importantly, the underlying science behind intersexuality and the nitty-gritty details of DSD rules need to be better communicated to the general public. Only then can we have meaningful conversations that strive towards the most fair and ethical way to classify athletes according to their abilities.

Source: varsity.co.uk

Francine Niyonsaba’s reinvention as a world-beating distance runner

With her performances in 2021, the Burundi has impressively moved up from 800m to longer distances.

But will her record-breaking feats accelerate change which could end her career? The message dropped into my email inbox. My request to interview Francine Niyonsaba had been approved, but with one condition – I was not allowed to ask her about the increasingly hot topic of differences in sex development (DSD).

We might not have spoken about the subject directly, but it never felt far away during the conversation and there has barely been a performance from the Burundian this year which has gone by without a related comment being made.

That is because those performances have been so good. She became the first athlete who identifies as having DSD to officially break a world record when clocking 5:21.26 for 2000m to take over two seconds from the former mark.

It ended a season of high achievement which included the 5000m Diamond League title and the fifth-fastest 3000m time in history. Not bad for someone who is pretty new to the distance running game.

Francine Niyonsaba leads Ejgayehu Taye (Diamond League AG)

That she is running further, of course, is not through choice. The two-time world indoor champion as well as Olympic and world silver medallist for 800m can no longer compete at her favoured event under the World Athletics rules, upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which came into force in 2019 and were famously challenged by Caster Semenya.

They decree that DSD athletes are not allowed to compete internationally between 400m and a mile unless they take medication to reduce their high levels of testosterone.

Niyonsaba’s performances – she was also fifth in the Olympic 10,000m final in Tokyo in what was just her second time racing the distance – and those of the Olympic silver medal-winning, world junior record-breaking sprinter Christine Mboma over 200m have raised questions as to whether or not the rules should widen out to other events. As Sean Ingle of The Guardian wrote, those athletes are “faced with a devilish catch-22.

The faster she [Mboma] runs, the more she provides evidence that she has an unfair advantage as an athlete with DSD”. Understandably, Niyonsaba does not want to fuel any fire but, at the same time, she is very clearly making a point. “They tried to stop me.

Tried to end my dreams,” she tweeted after her 5000m Diamond League victory in Zurich. “But how could I allow them to snatch my dreams away? So I worked hard and resisted those forces who tried to stop me. And here I am!” Speaking with her, there is an apparent determination rather than bitterness. A preference to accentuate the positive.

Asked if she would like to return to the 800m, Niyonsaba is short and to the point. “I would never go back. I keep looking forward.”

Francine Niyonsaba wins the 2018 world indoor 800m (Mark Shearman)

Even when quizzed as to the two-lap performance (and there have been many) of which she is most proud, the 28-year-old replies: “I have forgotten about the 800m because I am now focusing on the longer distances.

“Since I was born I have not had an easy life and I love challenges. I face them with a lot of determination and perseverance. To transform myself from 800m to longer distances was not easy. “I think life is full of challenges but I always say that the challenge is not a barrier but an opportunity to do better.

I still do not know if I like the long distance more than the 800m, but I love challenges. “I won’t think too much about it because it is what it is. At first it was not easy and I got a lot of injuries but I kept believing in myself.”

She adds: “I don’t know [if I will be better at 5000m or 10,000m] but I just love running long distances. Every moment I’m racing, or training, I just love running and I’m happy doing what I do. I am going to keep training hard, trying to perform well.

The good thing about it is that I have a lot to improve – I’m still learning and am sure that I can go a lot faster in the future.”

Francine Niyonsaba (Getty)

Having spent much of her career based in Oregon, Niyonsaba has now relocated to train in Kenya “because Kenyans are often champions in the longer distance”.

There is excitement about returning to the west coast of America for next year’s World Championships. “Eugene will feel like home,” she says. “To be back in Eugene for the World Championship would be fantastic for me and I hope I will be there.”

World Athletics president Seb Coe insists the DSD rules are “here to stay”. But will they have changed by the time Oregon comes around? What’s for certain is that this is an issue which is not going away any time soon.

Source: athleticsweekly.com

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.

 

Testosterone Again

In the first 2-mile race of her professional career, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba beat Ethiopia’s 5000m world record holder Letesenbet Gidey by six seconds in Friday’s women’s 2-mile at the Prefontaine Classic in a Hayward Field record of 9:00.75, less than two seconds off Meseret Defar’s world record.

Question: should this result reopen the conversation regarding high-testosterone in women’s athletics, or does it simply represent a particularly full-ranged athlete in top form? After all, Niyonsaba placed 5th in the Tokyo Olympic 10,000m final in 30:41.93.

Acknowledging her hyperandrogegism in 2019, Ms. Niyonsaba, the 2016 Rio Olympic 800m silver medalist, was among a handful of athletes (most famously South Africa’s Caster Semenya) forced to abandon their primary racing distances (400m up to the mile) in light of new World Athletics rules governing athletes with naturally high testosterone levels competing in those races.

Caster Semenya (center), 2016 Olympic silver medalist Francine Niyonsaba (left) and bronze medalist Margaret Wambui would be denied a potential rematch in Tokyo at 800 meters because of the regulations Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The World Athletics Council approved new eligibility rules at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar. The new rules required female athletes with naturally high testosterone levels, as well as transgender female athletes, to lower their testosterone concentration levels to a new limit of less than 5 nanomoles per liter of blood to “bring them back into a competitive balance”.

That new < 5 nmol/L limit would then have to be maintained continuously for a period of at least 12 months prior to an athlete being declared eligible for competition in the 400m to 1-mile. The previous limit was < 10 nmol/L But those lower levels would not be necessary for races contested below 400m or above the mile.

I was never good at math, so this new equation meant to represent “competitive balance” had me a bit flummoxed.

When you Google “normal testosterone measurements for females”, you discover values scaling between 0.52 to 2.43 nmol/L.  (Normal men range from 7.7 – 29.4 nmol/L).

My math-challenged male brain then wondered why an allowance nearly twice the high end of the normal limit (5.0 vs. 2.4) could be considered as “competitive balance” as it seemed decidedly imbalanced.

Why isn’t the appropriate new level for High-T and transgender females within the “normal range” topping out at 2.43 nmol/L, or rounded off at 2.50?  The answer World Athletics gave is that < 5 nmol/L is the number because that is the highest possible level that a healthy woman with ovaries would have.

Alright, but should the highest possible value become the new standard if the goal is to achieve “competitive balance”, especially if that number involves a very small but important segment of the racing population?

While that new standard may well produce an equilibrium, it’s hardly an even balance. In fact, you could argue that with no policy at all the sport had achieved equilibrium. A decidedly imbalanced one, mind you, but an equilibrium nonetheless.

Why should athletes within the normal range of 0.5 – 2.4 nmol/L be expected to compete fairly with athletes with essentially double their testosterone levels (5.0)? So they lose by, what, a lesser but still substantial margin?

Also, if regulators expect transgender or high-T females to reduce to a certain level, why not allow the non high-T or transgender athletes to go up to the same < 5.0 nmol/L limit that their high-T/transgender competitors have to come down to, all in the interest of fairness?

If World Athletics now requires drug use to lower certain athletes’ lab levels – call it performance-restricting drug use – then drug taking per se doesn’t seem to be the primary issue at hand anymore. Rather, it is the level of testosterone concentration in the athletes that officials are most concerned about.

So why not test everyone, and put them all in a similar range? If < 5 nmol/L is the number, then that’s the number for everybody. Those too high have to come down, but those below are allowed to come up.

We always talk about the winners and try to control their advantages. Why don’t we talk about the non-winners and make compensations from that end of the spectrum, too?

As always, just asking.

Source: tonireavis.com

Caster Semenya’s lawyers want answers from World Athletics after ‘misleading’ study stopped her competing

Caster Semenya’s lawyers have questioned why World Athletics have waited until after the Tokyo Olympics before releasing a bombshell report that admits the findings that triggered controversial regulations banning women with naturally elevated testosterone from international events are “misleading”.

Semenya was not allowed to defend her double Olympic 800 metres title in Tokyo under rules prohibiting athletes with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD) from competing at distances from 400m to one mile unless they take hormone-lowering medication.

But World Athletics are facing fresh calls from her legal representatives to scrap the regulation after the governing body’s scientists admitted their findings are based on evidence that was “exploratory, nothing else”.

That ruling was based on evidence published by two World Athletics scientists in 2017, which found a performance increase in females with high testosterone levels over those with low levels of 1.8 per cent for 800m and 2.7 per cent for 400m.

However, the British Journal of Sports Medicine – which published the original evidence – has now released a “correction” to that 2017 paper, causing campaigners to argue the rules should be ditched immediately. Semenya’s lawyers have also questioned why it was not released until days after the Olympics concluded.

Discussing potential links between high levels of testosterone and improved performance in women, Stephane Bermon, director of World Athletics’ Health and Science Department, and his predecessor Pierre-Yves Garnier, wrote: “To be explicit, there is no confirmatory evidence for causality in the observed relationships reported. We acknowledge that our 2017 study was exploratory.”

They add: “With this in mind, we recognise that statements in the paper could have been misleading by implying a causal inference.

“Specifically, ‘Female athletes with high fT [testosterone] levels have a significant competitive advantage over those with low fT in 400 m, 400 m hurdles, 800 m, hammer throw, and pole vault.’

“This statement should be amended to: ‘High fT levels in female athletes were associated with higher athletic performance over those with low fT in 400 m, 400 m hurdles, 800 m, hammer throw, and pole vault.’”

The scientists conclude that their findings are “on a lower level of evidence” and should be viewed as “exploratory, nothing else, that is, not confirmatory or evidence for a causal relationship.”

Semenya was absent from the recent Tokyo Olympics after unsuccessful challenges against the regulations at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and Switzerland’s supreme court. She is currently awaiting a hearing at the European Court of Human Rights, although World Athletics has argued it would not be bound by any ruling dished out. The new report, however, raises serious questions about why this clarification was not made before the recent Olympic Games, which concluded just nine days before it was made public.

“This is very significant new information,” Semenya’s lawyer Gregory Nott, of Norton Rose Fulbright, told Telegraph Sport.

“We are in the midst of the European Court of Human Rights case and will be discussing with our London QC and the whole legal team how to introduce the information into the proceedings.

“World Athletics have recently given notice of their wish to intervene in the European Court of Human Rights proceedings and we would hope that they will now support setting aside the regulations.

“It is more than surprising that World Athletics did not reveal this evidence before the recent Tokyo Olympics and allow Caster to defend her 800m title.”

Roger Pielke Jr, one of three scientists who published a 2019 International Sports Law Journal paper arguing the original World Athletics evidence was “flawed”, also said the latest admission meant the rules should be suspended immediately.

“Corrections are common in research, as scientists are human and make mistakes, like anyone else,” he said. “But one of the most important features of science is that it is self-correcting, and mistakes are identified, admitted and corrected.

“But the correction published today is not simply the admission of an error in an inconsequential paper, it is an admission of error by World Athletics in the only empirical analysis which underpins its eligibility regulations for female athletes. The implications are massive.”

He added: “The correction offered today provides a very public test of the integrity of World Athletics. The organisation chose to base its regulation on a set of scientific claims. It now admits that those claims were wrong and potentially misleading.

“Doing the right thing in support of the athletes that it represents means changing course when the facts warrant.”

America’s triple Olympic champion Tianna Bartoletta said: “Improve the studies. And let that govern the policy. That’s not what they did though. And that’s what I’ve been angry about.

“I believe in not manipulating science, and I will accept what it tells me even if my heart feels differently. From the beginning they wanted a specific outcome and that’s not right.”

The Telegraph has contacted World Athletics for comment.

World Athletics president Seb Coe earlier this month said Christine Mboma’s surprise Olympic 200m silver medal showed the governing body was right to crack down on women with naturally elevated testosterone levels.

In April, Namibian 18-year-old Mboma ran the second-fastest 400m time in the world this year, only to then be told a fortnight before the Tokyo Games that she was banned from contesting the event due to her DSD status.

She made a late switch to the 200m and broke the world under-20 record with a jet-heeled late surge in the final to claim Olympic silver in Tokyo.

“It was pretty observable that [Mboma’s] last 30 or 40 metres were impactful,” said Coe. “But, actually, I think that vindicated the decision about the 400m. If you are finishing a 200m like that, it supports the judgement that was made.”

Upholding the rules in 2019, the CAS admitted the regulations were “discriminatory” and it had “serious concerns” over their application. However, it ruled that “such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means… of preserving the integrity of female athletics”.

Source: telegraph.co.uk

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.”