Caster Semenya's gold medal in tonight's 800m should have been the proudest moment of the South African teenager's life. But for the athlete whose gender has been scrutinised the world over in the last 24 hours, it came as no surprise that she was advised to shun the media after her title-winning race. As the cameras settled on the athlete who has lived her whole life as a female, onlookers pored over their TV screens, studying the woman now rumoured to be a man. Controversy has dogged the 18- year-old since she posted a world leading personal best time of 1 minute 56.72 seconds – an eight second improvement on her time last year – to win gold at the African Junior Championships in Mauritius last month. That's just 0.51 seconds slower than Kelly Holmes' career best. Standing in lane four alongside Britain's diminutive Jenny Meadows – whose bronze medal was inevitably overshadowed by the hysteria tonight – Semenya's notably developed frame was further … [Read more...] about Caster Semenya wins 800m gold but cannot escape gender controversy
World athletics championships
A lot will be written by scientists, activists, lawyers, bureaucrats and others about Caster Semenya’s discrimination case. But women athletes are rarely heard from – especially those who have competed against Semenya, and other women alleged by the International Association of Athletics Federations to have “unfair” athletic abilities as a result of naturally elevated testosterone levels. I competed for Australia in the 800m against Semenya at the 2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin. Today I am convinced that the court of arbitration for sport’s decision to endorse rules aimed at excluding Semenya and other women athletes with naturally high levels of testosterone is the wrong one. In 2009 I watched the women’s 800m final from the stands as Semenya crossed the finish line more than two seconds clear of the pack. At the time, it was by far the path of least resistance for me to join the chorus of voices condemning her performance as … [Read more...] about I was sore about losing to Caster Semenya. But this decision against her is wrong
In well over 100 years there have been only 25 men who have tasted the Olympian heights and laid claim to the title "Fastest Man on Earth". It is an elite and also an eclectic club. The stories of these fast men are an extraordinary blend of success and disaster, as well as glory and tragedy; ranging from amazing wealth to grinding poverty; superstar adulation and national hero status to bankruptcy, shame, prison, even suicide. As a compelling human interest story, it's been an extraordinary rolling soap opera. And it doesn't look like stopping any time soon. With arguably the sport's greatest ever sprinter Usain Bolt on a one-man mission to rewrite the history books, it looks likely the fastest men that follow him will need to be even more extraordinary. But what about these future fast men? Who will they be and just how fast could they go? And is it now a cast-iron fact, at least at the elite level, that white men can't sprint? These are perennial questions for fans of track and … [Read more...] about Beyond Usain Bolt: can the world’s fast men get faster still?
South Africa's sports minister, the Rev Makhenkesi Stofile, has threatened a "third world war" should the International Association of Athletics Federations ban world champion Caster Semenya. Stofile leapt to Semenya's defence after allegations in the Australian press this morning that the 18-year-old, who won the gold medal in the 800 metres in Berlin last month, was a hermaphrodite. Asked what the South African reaction would be if the IAAF prevents Semenya from competing again, Stofile said: "I think it would be the third world war. We will go to the highest levels in contesting such a decision. I think it would be totally unfair and totally unjust." The IAAF commissioned a gender test on the teenager after her performance levels improved remarkably in the build-up to the World Championships. The Sydney Daily Telegraph is claiming the tests have shown that Semenya has both male and female sexual characteristics. Stofile denied the claim and expressed his disgust at the way the news … [Read more...] about Caster Semenya sanction would produce ‘third world war’, says South African minister
A leading scientist at international athletics’ governing body has said he is in favour of a third category for intersex athletes and that it could happen within five years – although he admitted public opinion will have to shift first. Dr Stéphane Bermon, who heads the IAAF’s health and science department, told the Guardian that while he was speaking in a personal capacity he had the “feeling some day it will happen, and probably in five or 10 years”. However, Bermon said: “My feeling is also the public is not ready for this. We don’t want to stigmatise athletes. We also have to take into account religious and cultural sensitivities. So basically I am in favour but there needs [to be] some changes in public opinion.” Bermon’s comments came on the day the IAAF published new rules that will require women with high testosterone levels to take a pill to lower it below five nanomoles per litre if they want to compete … [Read more...] about IAAF doctor predicts intersex category in athletics within five to 10 years