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Caster Semenya

bianchimoonbianchimoon Posts: 3,942
edited June 2019 in The cake stop
So the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) rejected the South African's challenge against the IAAF's new rules.
Really interesting landmark ruling, having to take drugs to lower testosterone to compete
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/athletics/48102479
All lies and jest..still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest....
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  • I feel sorry for her. Its not her fault that she is as she is. But then I feel sorry for the rest of the athletes competing against her. They don't really stand much chance.
  • Wayne PlungerWayne Plunger Posts: 444
    Maybe if Ludmilla Kratochviliva (spelling?) was still about she may have given her a run for her money both on the track and in the body shape department.
  • morstarmorstar Posts: 4,663
    So the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) rejected the South African's challenge against the IAAF's new rules.
    Really interesting landmark ruling, having to take drugs to lower testosterone to compete
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/athletics/48102479

    I'm really surprised she failed (from a laymans perspective). I haven't looked into the finer legal issues but I have a real problem with the precedent of taking drugs to level the playing field.

    She clearly has some genetic ambiguity but she is medically accepted as female so she is what she is, a female athlete with a genetic advantage in her chosen event. It's frustrating for her competitors but guess what, a huge part of sporting success is genetic pre-disposition. No amount of training will make me a 2:02 marathon runner.

    The transgender stuff is a far more 'unfair' issue and yet that is accepted due to the power of lobbying. Look at the response to Martina Navratilova questioning these rules.
  • chris_basschris_bass Posts: 4,913
    I think this is a very different issue than transgender which does need some consideration but that's for another day!

    If someone was considered a woman when born, lived as a woman all her life then I see no reason why she should not be allowed to compete as a woman. If she has abnormally high levels of testosterone then that is probably why she is a successful athlete - they are genetically superior to other people which is why they win stuff. Yeah they train hard but does the person that wins the race really just train the hardest? I highly doubt it.

    I'm waiting for someone with abnormally low testosterone to put the case for being allowed to take drugs to get them up to the limit that Caster Semenya needs to get hers down to. how is it any different?
    www.conjunctivitis.com - a site for sore eyes
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 9,647
    Chris Bass wrote:

    I'm waiting for someone with abnormally low testosterone to put the case for being allowed to take drugs to get them up to the limit that Caster Semenya needs to get hers down to. how is it any different?

    Exactly.
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  • ProssPross Posts: 29,626
    Chris Bass wrote:
    I think this is a very different issue than transgender which does need some consideration but that's for another day!

    If someone was considered a woman when born, lived as a woman all her life then I see no reason why she should not be allowed to compete as a woman. If she has abnormally high levels of testosterone then that is probably why she is a successful athlete - they are genetically superior to other people which is why they win stuff. Yeah they train hard but does the person that wins the race really just train the hardest? I highly doubt it.

    I'm waiting for someone with abnormally low testosterone to put the case for being allowed to take drugs to get them up to the limit that Caster Semenya needs to get hers down to. how is it any different?

    Agreed, I really feel for her and worry of the impact this could have on her. It can't be easy mentally to have gone through everything she has since coming into the public eye.
  • john80john80 Posts: 2,425
    It is funny how some of the men changing to women are accepted into women's sport but the girl that is technically a women is not allowed in. Essentially at all levels of elite athletics they could be considered at the extremes of genetics. Kipchoge will be pretty unique as will Usain Bolt, Mo Farah etc. I think the real reason for the Caster backlash is that people generally have an issue with women with athletic figures who do not meet a beauty standard that is solely reserved for women.

    The Peter Crouch joke of what would you be if you were not a professional footballer with his response a virgin is a pretty humerous take on the double standards in play.
  • ProssPross Posts: 29,626
    Looking at the decision it does look like it might give sports governing bodies the ability to clamp down on transgender competitors as the Court ruled that whilst it agreed that the decision is discriminatory that discrimination is necessary so I can imagine the same would apply if a transgender athlete takes a case to the Court.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,313
    From the Guardian "It means that all DSD athletes, who are usually born with internal testes, will have to reduce their testosterone to below five nmol/L for at least six months if they want to compete internationally all distances from 400m to a mile. The IAAF, which welcomed the news, said its policy would come into place on 8 May."

    For me it's the right decision, it's become clear that what is "female" isn't as self evident as was once thought , if athletes have typically male physiological characteristics that confer an advantage over females then at the very least some kind of treatment to negate that seems a reasonable compromise.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • chris_basschris_bass Posts: 4,913
    As far as I know (and i'll admit i haven't really looked into it) this isn't a very common test, so are all athletes going to be required to take it now? if not, if someone starts winning a lot of races and gets tested and is found to have testosterone that is too high will they have their titles retrospectively taken away?

    I think everything that is natural should be left as it is.

    What about female weight lifting? discus? shot put? javelin? i'd imagine a lot of them have pretty high testosterone naturally - are they going to do something similar there? or is it just because Caster Semenya was beating all the others that there was a problem?
    www.conjunctivitis.com - a site for sore eyes
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,313
    It's about defining what is "female" for the purposes of sport. It isn't just because she was beating all the others, it's because she was beating all the others due (presumably because we don't have access to her medical records) she has some physiological traits more commonly associated with defining what is male. You really are guessing with the comments about field athletes.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 20,769
    It's about defining what is "female" for the purposes of sport. It isn't just because she was beating all the others, it's because she was beating all the others due (presumably because we don't have access to her medical records) she has some physiological traits more commonly associated with defining what is male. You really are guessing with the comments about field athletes.

    Or possibly, sport is built on an incorrect premise: that gender is rigidly binary.
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  • orraloonorraloon Posts: 8,984
    From the Guardian "It means that all DSD athletes, who are usually born with internal testes, will have to reduce their testosterone to below five nmol/L for at least six months if they want to compete internationally all distances from 400m to a mile. The IAAF, which welcomed the news, said its policy would come into place on 8 May."
    The IOC testosterone figure for transgender athletes is to be below 10 nmol/l. Implies Semenya has to reduce her testosterone further than some bloke who elects to compete as a woman?
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 16,827
    rjsterry wrote:
    It's about defining what is "female" for the purposes of sport. It isn't just because she was beating all the others, it's because she was beating all the others due (presumably because we don't have access to her medical records) she has some physiological traits more commonly associated with defining what is male. You really are guessing with the comments about field athletes.

    Or possibly, sport is built on an incorrect premise: that gender is rigidly binary.
    Further, the whole point of sport is to highlight genetic inequalities.
    I’d enter the TdF if we were all genetically equal.
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  • chris_basschris_bass Posts: 4,913
    I just can't see how this is a fair ruling unless all female athletes are tested and any above trhe limit also have to reduce their levels. And how is it not fair if someone wants to increase their level to the upper limit? If they are saying it is ok to change natural levels of testosterone it should work both ways.
    www.conjunctivitis.com - a site for sore eyes
  • tangled_metaltangled_metal Posts: 4,021
    Are we headed towards a paralympic style, category based female competition with assessment of all athletes? Just an idea but it could make a race hard to follow. The winner of the race might not be the winner after category adjustment is applied.

    From my point of view I only want to see the best athletes competing but with faith that it's a fair competition. I don't know how to define that but it worries me we've never had it.

    That last point is complex. Rich nations have money for training athletes and grassroots sport which develops the youth. Poor countries don't have that as much. In the past athletics was amateur and self financing. That meant rich kids did it and it was harder for poor talent to get out of the factories and into the record books.

    Unfairness has always been there but each generation is to define fairness in their time. It seems with drugs, various other cheating and gender / medical issues we're in a period needing a lot of defining wrt fairness.
  • haydenmhaydenm Posts: 2,934
    From the Guardian "It means that all DSD athletes, who are usually born with internal testes, will have to reduce their testosterone to below five nmol/L for at least six months if they want to compete internationally all distances from 400m to a mile. The IAAF, which welcomed the news, said its policy would come into place on 8 May."

    For me it's the right decision, it's become clear that what is "female" isn't as self evident as was once thought , if athletes have typically male physiological characteristics that confer an advantage over females then at the very least some kind of treatment to negate that seems a reasonable compromise.

    I think I agree with this in principle. I feel hugely sorry for her though and how it is applied in practice is a total minefield
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,313
    rjsterry wrote:
    It's about defining what is "female" for the purposes of sport. It isn't just because she was beating all the others, it's because she was beating all the others due (presumably because we don't have access to her medical records) she has some physiological traits more commonly associated with defining what is male. You really are guessing with the comments about field athletes.

    Or possibly, sport is built on an incorrect premise: that gender is rigidly binary.

    Well yes but if we are going to have female sport presumably we need a definition of female. We could accept self identification, plenty would, but given the justification for women only sport is usually seen as biological differences between the sexes it's not unreasonable to try and build some definition based on what we think are the relevant biological differences.

    We aren't really talking about gender, we are talking about sex, gender is a wider concept which goes beyond the biology of the individual.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 20,769
    rjsterry wrote:
    It's about defining what is "female" for the purposes of sport. It isn't just because she was beating all the others, it's because she was beating all the others due (presumably because we don't have access to her medical records) she has some physiological traits more commonly associated with defining what is male. You really are guessing with the comments about field athletes.

    Or possibly, sport is built on an incorrect premise: that gender is rigidly binary.

    Well yes but if we are going to have female sport presumably we need a definition of female. We could accept self identification, plenty would, but given the justification for women only sport is usually seen as biological differences between the sexes it's not unreasonable to try and build some definition based on what we think are the relevant biological differences.

    We aren't really talking about gender, we are talking about sex, gender is a wider concept which goes beyond the biology of the individual.

    Some categorisation is not unreasonable. Whether testosterone levels are an appropriate means to categorise is at the very least up for debate. I'd suggest it is a very simplistic view.

    Suggesting people artificially alter their natural hormone levels in order to compete 'fairly' has gone through the looking glass.
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  • haydenmhaydenm Posts: 2,934
    The testosterone limit is a blunt tool (and doesn't avoid some of the issues associated with trans atheletes but thats a different debate) but I don't know what would be better, although I'm sure it will come. As has been said, if there is a sliding scale between male and female attributes then there has to be some cut off between male and female categories, the current system of "that's what it says on her birth certificate' is an equally arbitrary tool. I really don't want to be insensitive but she has internal testes which give her an edge in testosterone, a slightly more extreme natural variance which has been deamed as being outside the limits for 'female' sport. Again, I feel hugely sorry for her and CAS have said she is being discriminated against with fairness in mind, a lose lose situation in all instances
  • ProssPross Posts: 29,626
    rjsterry wrote:
    It's about defining what is "female" for the purposes of sport. It isn't just because she was beating all the others, it's because she was beating all the others due (presumably because we don't have access to her medical records) she has some physiological traits more commonly associated with defining what is male. You really are guessing with the comments about field athletes.

    Or possibly, sport is built on an incorrect premise: that gender is rigidly binary.

    As sport is, by necessity, governed by arbitrary rules I don't think it is unreasonable for gender within competition to be determined by rigid interpretations of physical and biological parameters. I suppose you could do away with the label of men's or women's events and just call them Category A and Category B which would be determined by those key physical and biological parameters.
  • chris_basschris_bass Posts: 4,913
    Would she be allowed to compete in male events without any hormone treatment?

    if not are they saying that she is not able to compete naturally as an athlete?
    www.conjunctivitis.com - a site for sore eyes
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,313
    rjsterry wrote:


    Some categorisation is not unreasonable. Whether testosterone levels are an appropriate means to categorise is at the very least up for debate. I'd suggest it is a very simplistic view.

    Suggesting people artificially alter their natural hormone levels in order to compete 'fairly' has gone through the looking glass.

    Well maybe but really it's a solution borne of sensitivity to those in her position. The hard nosed solution would be to say sorry but for the purposes of this athletic event you have a condition that bars you from competition as a woman.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 20,769
    rjsterry wrote:


    Some categorisation is not unreasonable. Whether testosterone levels are an appropriate means to categorise is at the very least up for debate. I'd suggest it is a very simplistic view.

    Suggesting people artificially alter their natural hormone levels in order to compete 'fairly' has gone through the looking glass.

    Well maybe but really it's a solution borne of sensitivity to those in her position. The hard nosed solution would be to say sorry but for the purposes of this athletic event you have a condition that bars you from competition as a woman.

    Given that the incidence of the condition is estimated to be somewhere between 1 in 1500 and 1 in 60, I think it is likely that there have been other intersex athletes who have passed under the radar so to speak due to them not being as successful. That in itself suggests there is more to Semenya's success than her testosterone levels. Has anyone proposed a method to determine the degree of influence or is the testosterone level being used because it is associated with performance and is easy to measure.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

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  • laurentianlaurentian Posts: 1,897
    rjsterry wrote:
    Has anyone proposed a method to determine the degree of influence or is the testosterone level being used because it is associated with performance and is easy to measure.

    I think the "degree of influence" has been measured or assessed because the requirement to use the suppressant only applies to certain race distances. She could, for example, compete in the 5000m without doing anything about the testosterone levels.

    I also heard that there was some debate as to whether the ruling should be applied to 1500m races as the "degree of influence" was equivocal at this distance.

    It seems odd (to me) that raised testosterone has led to some very high profile DQs in mens sprinting and yet this ruling only applies to womens races from 400m to the mile.
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  • tangled_metaltangled_metal Posts: 4,021
    Are you suggesting there's a hyper-male condition where some male runners have 4x the amount of natural testosterone than other male athletes? I don't follow your comment.
    It seems odd (to me) that raised testosterone has led to some very high profile DQs in mens sprinting and yet this ruling only applies to womens races from 400m to the mile.
  • chris_basschris_bass Posts: 4,913
    Can't speak on their behalf but i'd imagine they are suggesting that sprinting drug cheats often have very high testosterone and this is why they are disqualified.
    www.conjunctivitis.com - a site for sore eyes
  • tangled_metaltangled_metal Posts: 4,021
    Oh! I misread the comment as implying the Semenye situation had a corollary with men with conditions causing naturally high testosterone somehow.
  • tangled_metaltangled_metal Posts: 4,021
    Interesting to note there was an Indian, female athlete who took the IAAF to CAS I believe and won. Was she called Chand?
  • laurentianlaurentian Posts: 1,897
    Are you suggesting there's a hyper-male condition where some male runners have 4x the amount of natural testosterone than other male athletes? I don't follow your comment.
    It seems odd (to me) that raised testosterone has led to some very high profile DQs in mens sprinting and yet this ruling only applies to womens races from 400m to the mile.

    What I find odd is that high (i.e. illegally modified) testosterone is grounds for DQ in male sprinting yet Semenya's high testosterone would not preclude her from running 100 and 200m races and is seemingly not a problem in 5000m plus races. The ruling seems to suggest that her high testosterone level is only an advantage in race distances between 400m and 1 mile
    Wilier Izoard XP
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