Thursday, August 20, 2009

Too good to be a girl

So if a young athlete pops onto the track and field scene with personal best times that are considerably better than her previous times you should test her to make sure that:
A) she is not taking performance-enhancing drugs.
B) she is not a cyborg.
C) she is not a man.

If it were me, I would choose B because, I just think that would be the most interesting and I think that's where we're headed. Realistically though it would seem A would be the best choice for a sport that is plagued with a drug problem.
But no, the IAAF is going with C. Yep, they are suspicious of the times turned in by 18-year old Caster Semenya from South Africa who qualified for the final heat of the 800 meters at the World Championships being held in Berlin. They have asked the South African federation to test her gender. And this is not the Buccal swab of days of yore. This is everything:
The verification requires a physical medical evaluation, and includes reports from a gynecologist, endocrinologist, psychologist, an internal medicine specialist and an expert on gender.
Hmm..."expert on gender." I must have missed that call.
Probably best for them because I would have said something like, "are you crazy?"
Is this the can of worms that was opened during the Beijing Olympics when the reserved the right to selectively test suspect females? [Note that the worms in that can would not pass the test because they are hermaphrodites.]
I cannot find any rationale for why Semenya is suspected of "not meet[ing] the requirements to compete as a woman." History has taught us nothing, clearly.
The very minor consolation is that some are at least acknowledging that it could be a "natural" thing in which the athlete was raised as a woman and believes herself to be a woman and thus is not a gender cheat. Of course the nuance appears to end there.
And if you think her race does not play a part in this discussion, think again.

PS Semenya won the 800.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I feel bad for her because she probably has been mocked all her life. At least she can be finally do something that she can be proud of. Besides, why are they questioning her gender now after she won. If there was a problem, they should have checked her out discreetly before the race instead of embarrassing her after she won.