Caster Semenya They Still Don't Know
I've written about Caster Semenya before here and here. I find it odd that people provided links proving she was a man and indicating she was had to be a man because she is ugly, but yet major newspapers around the world couldn't confirm it. As of November, we still don't know. The IAFF doesn't want to make the results public,but it has been shown that Semenya will get to keep her medal and her prize money, and as it stands right now in the race that set off this whole mess, she ran as a woman. But, I will still get folks proclaiming this woman is a man, and have no problems with the way this whole case, which should have been private, was completely given trashy tabloid treatment all over the world.
South African Runner’s Sex-Verification Result Won’t Be Public
By JERÉ LONGMAN
Published: November 19, 2009
One of the most public and controversial cases of sex verification in sports has apparently been resolved, at least in part, but the answers to some important questions have not been made public.
Fabrice Coffrini/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A woman protested outside the International Olympic Committee’s headquarters in Switzerland on Thursday.
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Anja Niedringhaus/Associated Press
Caster Semenya won the 800-meter gold medal at the world championships in Berlin.
South Africa’s sports ministry said in a statement Thursday that Caster Semenya, 18, the world champion 800-meter runner, had reached an agreement with track and field’s world governing body to keep the gold medal and prize money she won at the world championships in August.
Most notably, however, the sports ministry did not say whether Semenya would be allowed to continue to compete as a woman. The statement also did not disclose the results of sex-verification tests she had undergone.
“As such, there will be no public announcement of what the panel of scientists has found,” the sports ministry said. “We urge all South Africans and other people to respect this professional, ethical and moral way of doing things.”
Semenya, who attends the University of Pretoria, could not be reached for comment. Her coach, Michael Seme, said in a telephone interview from Pretoria that Semenya “is going to compete as a woman and will remain a woman until she dies.”
Asked whether Semenya had been cleared to compete as a woman without further testing or surgery, Seme said: “I don’t want to talk about that. The only thing I want to say is that I’m happy Caster will retain her title as the fastest 800-meter runner in the world. The most important thing when you are an athlete is to get your medal.”
Disputes in sports over athletes’ sex are rare, and perhaps never has such a case been as volatile as the one that emerged at the world championships, when it became apparent how unprepared her sport was to handle cases of athletes who may have both male and female characteristics.
As Semenya posted the fastest time of the year in the 800 meters, track officials said they had begun sex verification testing on her, but South African officials said that they were blindsided by the claims and insulted that officials had disclosed such private information.
In September, Leonard Chuene, president of Athletics South Africa, apologized for denying knowledge of the sex tests done on Semenya in his country, saying he had hoped to protect her privacy.
After Semenya won the world title, international track officials ordered more tests, saying questions had been raised about her muscular physique and drastic improvement.
Chuene said that tests had been conducted at a Pretoria hospital on Aug. 7 at the behest of track and field’s Monaco-based governing body governing body, the I.A.A.F. Chuene has said that despite medical advice from one of South Africa’s top sports medical officials, he refused to withdraw Semenya from the competition in Berlin because the results of the tests were not yet known.
Athletics South Africa said last month that it had suspended Chuene and the rest of his board.
Sex-determination testing was once obligatory for female athletes at the Olympics because of persistent allegations that some competitors were not really women. Sanctions are very rare. One case came at the 2006 Asian Games, where a middle-distance runner, Santhi Soundarajan of India, was stripped of a silver medal after failing a verification test.
The sex-determination testing was phased out in 1999 because of concerns about inequities. The testing is now reserved for specific cases in Olympic sports.
The testing done on Semenya takes weeks to complete. It requires a physical medical evaluation, and includes reports from a gynecologist, an endocrinologist, a psychologist, an internal medicine specialist and an expert on gender. The effort, coordinated by Dr. Harold Adams, a South African on the I.A.A.F. medical panel, was conducted at hospitals in Berlin and South Africa.
It is unclear what the exact threshold is, in the eyes of the I.A.A.F., for a female athlete’s being ineligible to compete as a woman.
“The implications of the scientific findings on Caster’s health and life going forward will be analyzed by Caster and she will make her own decision on her future,” the sports ministry said. “Whatever she decides, ours is to respect her decision.”
The I.A.A.F., did not immediately respond to the statement made by the South African sports ministry. The statement had been expected to be issued next week.
The South African sports ministry said it had asked for an apology from the I.A.A.F., which denied leaking information about Semenya, but responded, “It is deeply regrettable that information of a confidential matter entered the public domain.”
Makhenkesi Stofile, South Africa’s sports minister, described Semenya as excited about the apparent resolution of her case, according to the South African Press Association.
“She will roll with the punches,” Stofile told the press association. “In my view, Caster Semenya’s future is in her hands. She can decide to run as a woman, which she is.”