Sex Of Top Athlete Comes Under Fire

Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) September 29, 2009 -- (IAAF) The International Association of Athletes Federation must make a decision whether South African Caster Semenya should be barred from future events or not. Her deep voice, the way she runs and muscular build have forced Semenya to take gender tests, after doubts were raised about her sex.

Semenya's gender has resulted in heated debates, following her impressive victory in the women's 800m race, at the world championships in Berlin, where she produced a new world record. The IAAF had asked the South African track and field authorities to conduct tests, after Semenya posted a world-leading time at the African junior championships in July. Though Semenya has been asked to take the tests, they are not mandatory.

It seems Semenya, aged18, possess three times the amount of testosterone, that is normally found in a female. Rumour has it that Semenya has internal testes, the male sexual organ which produces testosterone. Both ISA and IAAF admit they have handled the situation badly.

Treating the issue as a health matter, the IAAF said they are looking at Semenya’s eligibility to compete in women’s athletics, as a secondary problem. If found with both male and female characteristics, Semenya could be in a very difficult situation. The IAAF believe the situation has grave health risks.

Semenya withdrew from a 4,000m South African Cross Country Championships race, hoping to have the situation clarified in the near future. Semenya is believed to be receiving trauma counselling.

An expert on gender and a psychologist, as well as an endocrinologist, gynecologist and an internal medicine expert, have begun the complex test procedure. It is uncertain when the full results will be known, as it could take several weeks to complete.

Makhenkesi Stofile, South African Sports Minister, expressed horror at the handling of the affair and insisted Caster is female. "We think her human rights have been violated and her privacy invaded," Stofile said, adding that Semenya should be given legal advice and counseling. South Africa is standing firm with Semenya, declaring her 'our girl'.

The heated debate involves both personal and political sensitivities. The African National Congress MP and National Assembly sports committee chairman Butana Komphela has lodged a complaint with the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights, accusing the IAAF of racism and sexism.

Semenya will most likely keep her gold medal, because the case was not related to a doping issue. However, it is less apparent whether she will be allowed to compete again, if she proves to be both male and female.

Gender testing was used at the Olympics during the 1968 Mexico City games, however gender testing was first introduced at the 1966 European Track and Field Championships. All athletes must compete according to their gender at birth, under the rules of the International Olympic Committee.

Dora Ratjen of Vienna, jumping 1metre 70 in 1938, broke the women's high jump world record. Dora was later proven to have been born a male, named Hermann Ratjen. Polish athlete Ewa Klobukowska was revealed to be a man in 1967.

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Press Release Submitted On: September 29, 2009 at 6:35 pm
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