Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Semenya had elevated testosterone in early tests

World women's 800m sprint champion Caster Semenya has returned high levels of testosterone in preliminary medical tests, according to UK paper The Daily Telegraph.
The paper reports these elevated results were derived from tests carried out before the start of the IAAF world championships held in Berlin.
The early data provided impetus to the IAAF's decision to have Semenya's gender verified.
Official medical tests results on the runner are not expected for several weeks.
The IAAF has expressed it's regret that the row has become public knowledge as it should have remained a confidential matter until the test results were returned.
"It should not even have become an issue if the confidentiality had been respected. There was a leak of confidentiality at some point and this led to some insensitive reactions," said an IAAF spokesman.
Meanwhile, Semenya returned home to South Africa which has embraced the embattled runner.
The country's parliament plans to file a complaint with the United Nations Commissioner of Human Rights over the athlete's treatment.
It will argue the gender verification tests are a "gross and severe undermining of rights and privacy".
Her supporters in South Africa have claimed that while she may have always looked boyish Semenya has nothing to answer for. And while tests will soon decide whether the IAAF decision was correct, her plight has gone global.
Among the loudest protesters have been the Intersex community, which speaks in support of those born without the 'normal' XX and XY chromosomes owned, respectively, by the female and male majority.
To be classed as 'intersex', according to the International Organisation of Intersexes (OII), "is not as rare as often believed and many people are intersexed, although it may not be visible at birth".
A petition has also been launched by the San Francisco-based National Sexuality Resource Center (NSRC), demanding the IAAF "stay out of Caster Semenya's pants".
"Your efforts to make champion Caster Semenya 'prove' she is a woman are shameful and unnecessary, and undermine the integrity and dignity of women athletes," said the NSRC.
"Requiring select athletes -- based purely on looks -- to undergo 'scientific' testing that others do not is unfair and humiliating."
Perhaps the most notorious gender case in sport is that of Stalislawa Walasiewicz, a female Polish sprinter who won 100m gold at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles as Stella Walsh.
It was only after she was shot dead in 1980 that an autopsy revealed Walsh as possessing male genitalia.
However, while those revelations finally ended years of suspicion surrounding Walsh, there is a genetic 'grey area' which appears to lend itself to open discrimination.
Three years ago India's Santhi Soundarajan found herself in a similar position as Semenya.
She was stripped of the silver medal she won in the women's 800m at the 2006 Asian Games in Qatar after she 'failed' a sex test ordered by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
Sent home from the Games, Soundarajan was left humiliated, and attempted suicide

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