The Olympics have and always will include drug cheats, but now there’s a new and even more controversial topic about performance. Caster Semenya is South Africa’s latest superstar, and just won gold at Rio 2016. However, her gender is what is causing controversy at these games.
Having in the past been ridiculed by being forced to take a gender test the day of a final, Caster Semenya is finally being proud of who she is, gender and all. Found to have hyperandrogenism, some argue she should not be running against women.
With testosterone levels 3x higher than that of regular women, no uterus or womb, and a small pair of internal testes, some say she is too much of a man to compete.
Whether or not she has an advantage in the field of the 800m can be answered pretty clearly in my mind. No. Caster Semenya has been winning, a lot, but she is by no means the best female 800m runner ever. At Rio she was seconds behind the WR, and had been all competition.
Lynsey Sharp, a GB competitor who came 6th, argues Caster Semenya racing with her was unfair.
However, Lynsey managed to run her PB at the final in Rio 2016, and still only came sixth. 5 competitors beat her, only one of whom was Caster Semenya, beat her. This has sore loser syndrome written all over it.
Yes, Caster Semenya has a biological advantage in one aspect. By having higher testosterone levels, she is a much stronger athlete than woman with normal levels. However, an 800m runner is not successful purely because of their hormones.
It’s about stride lengths, weight, training, anaerobic performance and much, much more. If you think that the person who will win is the one simply with higher testosterone, you need to check yourself.
If Caster is not allowed to compete against women, where do we stop? One comment even had the audacity to suggest that we should create a classification for those with hyperandroginism.
Should other athletes be restricted like Caster Semenya?
So, would this apply to other athletes too? Simone Biles tiny stature means that she can fit in more moves than regular competitors, yet there is no outrage here. Michael Phelps extreme arm length clearly has given him advantages, and Usain Bolt is taller than everyone else on the start line by a mile.
Will the IOC have to create a different field for the Kenyans, because they were born and raised in environments that allow them to beat those born in the Western world? A natural advantage is just that, natural.
Why are these athletes praised and labeled as superstars, super humans and heroes, and Caster Semenya is labeled as controversial? Simply because gender is still a scary and unknown thing. Whether it’s allowing transgender athletes to compete or those with natural hormonal advantages succeeding, the rulebook never went this far.
If you lose against Caster Semenya, it’s the first and easiest thing to blame. It will be the first thing you’re asked about in post race interviews and it would have been the topic on everyone’s tongues before the start.
Caster has not been doping like the large majority of the Olympics superstars, but she is sadly even more controversial. She was born this way, and she just so happens to be very good at what she does.
It has been proved that she is a female, just like all her other competitors. Her testosterone may be higher, but there are other ways that her competitors are more suited to the 800m too.
Is this political correctness gone wrong?
It’s not desperately PC to allow her to compete; it’s the only thing to do. Is she biologically a woman? Yes. Did she qualify and conform to IOC rules? Of course. Is she doping? No. She fulfils all of the qualifications.
If she was running times to rival the men’s then yes, there may be more of an issue. But like she said, her rivals just haven’t been up to scratch. No world or Olympic records have been recently set, and most are simply not performing at their best.
It just so happens that Caster is.
She has done nothing wrong. She is a good runner, and also has naturally high levels of testosterone. You can either be a sourpuss about it and cry over how a world-class athlete who trained all her life beat you because of her hormones, or just go and work on your own performance.
To call it unfair to have her compete against women is honestly pathetic. Where are the complaints by sprinters that haven’t had a chance for the past 3 Olympics because of Bolt? Or the 20+ people Phelps beat into second in Olympic finals?
Some top performers do have a natural advantage in their sport, and that’s that. If it is natural, and in the case of women, are still competing at a female pace, then there is nothing wrong.
I never thought the day I would see people complaining that a woman is ‘too fast’, and blame it on her masculinity. Way to go feminism, all about including all women hey?