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Semenya's sex test explained

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Gordon Farquhar | 14:07 UK time, Friday, 21 August 2009

This must be an awful time for Caster Semenya, brought up as a girl and a woman, but now facing the possibility of being told she may not be who she thinks she is.

The IAAF has to leave the potential psychological effects of this to one side for now and let the scientists deliver their verdict on the 18-year-old South African who came from nowhere to become World 800m champion.

Gender testing is a complicated business. Basically, if questions are raised there are four main elements to consider: anatomy, physiology, chromosomal makeup and genetic composition.

Those who think it's a simple case of a naked parade, as was the norm when gender testing first happened in sport in the 1960s, are much mistaken, but anatomy is the obvious starting point.

Caster SemenyaThankfully, the IOC was persuaded to quickly move on from the crude, unsatisfactory methods first used. Chromosome testing was the next step, and that produces an analysis that is accurate in most cases.

If you present with a XX chromatic profile, you are a woman; XY and you are a man. Easy?

Well, fairly, but how then do explain the example of a woman with secondary sexual development (breasts), anatomically female genitalia, yet with an XY chromosomic presentation? It does happen.

In simple(ish) terms, there's a condition called Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, which occurs when a part of the Y chromosome doesn't do what it should.

Called the SRY gene, it's the instigator of male foetal development. Where it does its job properly, the male hormones ping off and the male foetus develops normally.

However, in a very small number of cases (perhaps one in 20,000 I understand), there's a malfunction and both female and male genitalia develop, albeit internally, and male hormones like testosterone, are largely held in check.Santhi Soundarajan failed a gender test after the 2006 Asian Games

For sports governing bodies like the IOC or IAAF, where fair competition on the basis of gender is a pre-requisite, this has been a real headache. How and who should decide in these cases whether the person be considered a woman or a man?

The answer is through debate, case-by-case discussion, and a lot of analysis.

The IOC has concluded that people who present with the CAIS syndrome should be considered to be female, but there are variations along the way - and of course we don't yet know the full details of Semenya's case.

All this will have to be gone through, but hopefully more privately than has been the case in Berlin this week.

The South African teenager ought to be shown more sensitivity than was afforded to the Indian runner Santhi Soundarajan (pictured above), who attempted suicide in 2007 after failing gender tests and being stripped of the silver medal she won in the 800m at the 2006 Asian Games.

She survived that ordeal and has now set up her own athletics academy in India, so her story at least had a happy ending.

It's to be hoped Semenya's will too, whatever the outcome of the gender tests she must now be anxiously awaiting.


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  • Comment number 1.

    I sincerely hope that all this hoopla does not cause her, nor any other athlete, to withdraw from competition. Gender testing of athletes should be regarded as a routine event and not reported in the press unless there is some significant finding. Whether she is female, male or of indeterminate gender, she is a gifted human being who has as much right to compete as anyone else. Current rules and structure for competition seem to allow for only two gender categories, whereas it is now known that as many as 1 in 1,000 babies has some sort of gender abnormality. To make it possible for all athletes to compete regardless of gender, why not create "open" or "mixed" events, in addition to the traditional men's and women's events?

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    I apologize, I mistyped. The general, conservative data is that 1 in every 2,000 births is intersex (I quoted from the article, which grossly miscalculated the figure as 1 in every 20,000).

  • Comment number 4.

    People need to get more in depth in their sex research. The figure 1 in every 2,000 births is simplistic, as there are (as the article mentions) numerous "sex" characteristics a person may be born with, from chromosomes to more 'physical' characteristics.

    There is an excellent text written on the subject, both scientific and philosophical, which I cannot link here, but you can find mentioned by the Intersex Society of America (it's an academic text book). I'm more a philosophy person myself, so found it a dry read at first, but found it incredible well researched and informative.

    P.S. 1 in every 2,000 births still means over 150,000 people in the U.S. (again, this does not count other births that are sex-questionable/intersex). For instance, that is more than the population of my own community, Tibetans, in the U.S. (and in fact, almost our total number outside Tibet). But most people know about Tibetans and a thing or two about our 'issues.' The same should occur around the myth of two clear cut sexes, and the reality of intersexed people.

  • Comment number 5.

    Did the IOC or IAAF not see her when she started the race - why the hoola when she won the race!

  • Comment number 6.

    If the IOC were going to do this they should have kept quiet about it until they got the results - talk about respecting someone's privacy, after all they keep stressing she hasn't done anything wrong.

  • Comment number 7.

    I don't suppose you learned all that in Mrs Birkin's biology class Gordon

  • Comment number 8.

    Why is there this concern, when the physical size and muscular shape of the Williams tennis players, and the 100metre american runners has been with us for years. If she had long hair and nail varnish would this take the pressure off ? Also why so public ? Are drug tests and testers not as physically personal as possible ? Has she failed these? If she was american or English all you would hear is litigation, her silence is humbling.

  • Comment number 9.

    While I agree entirely vwith your sentiment that she should have been treated more sensitively, just the fact that the press are making such a story of this and your need to write here shows a huge lack of sensitivity.

    There are many people who are gender variant for one reason or another - and most of these have genetic causes to them.

    Why if she has a female birth certificate is anyone even interested in challenging this? If we are going to allow her to be challenged in this way then surely we have to accept the right of every single person to challenge the validity of any birth certificate.

    Time to get real and start supporting her. There are women of all shapes and sizes, with all sorts of voices. Just because she does not fit the image portrayed in magazines does not mean she is any less of a woman.

  • Comment number 10.

    You have to wonder whether she would have been tested had she been a blonde European who had improved as much. How do we know that there aren't many such women who unknown to themselves would fail this test? It would seem this kind of testing should be mandatory if you're going to pick out individuals for what seem fairly arbitrary reasons.

  • Comment number 11.

    conto1, from what we understand, there were complaints and accusations from fellow athletes in the African youth games in Mauritius. This was just three weeks ago and was the first time she demonstrated her world class potential.
    I'm sure the IAAF would have preferred to keep this quiet, but their hand was forced before the final by the increasing speculation. The timing was unfortunate, but they had to make a statement to let it be known, they had already acted, but that the results (of whether she is ALL female) wouldn't be known for some time.
    It's not about racism or sexism - it's about the IAAF ensuring a level playing field for all athletes.

    I feel very sorry for her, because, as Gordon's article suggests, she's not a cheat, merely an athlete doing the best she can.
    p.s. Her silence isn't humbling, it's merely hiding a suspiciously deep voice.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Semenya may well be a talented athlete, but that does not make it acceptable that she should be allowed to compete should the results show her to be a man. As to the questions of ethnic appearance above ... Surely the fact that Semenya does have a very masculine appearance is far more of a reason to be tested than the fact that she is Black - And that's without taking into consideration her rather dramatic rise to the Gold medal at an incrediably young age.

  • Comment number 14.

    I think that every right minded person would feel a great amount of sympathy for this girl. The IOC will also feel a great amount of regret in releasing the information to the press. However I don't blame them for resulting media circus that has surrounded Caster Semenya, that is the responsibility of all of us, as broadcasters, journalists and as the general public. The one positive that will come out of this is that people will, hopefully, become educated on the subject and gain a sense of understanding and compassion for people with gender conditions.

  • Comment number 15.

    She was brought up as a woman. She excelled at her sport. Is she a woman?

    Bolt just did the impossible, is he a man? Should he not be tested to see if there are not any mechanical parts to him? He might just explode if he was put into a MR.


    Are we now to test every athlete for every possible abnormality? If a top athlete has a rare disease, then he/she is allowed to enter the "disabled"? Olymipics. Fact.

    A friend of mine has a blood dissorder that only a few in the world have and qualifies for the "disabled"(please help me on the correct phrase) Olympics. There is nothing wrong with her, otherwise. Why can she not take part in the normal Olympics?

    I'ts all bull.

    Bolt, obiously has something wrong with him to be so good, he should be taking part in the disabled Olympics.

  • Comment number 16.


    A reasonable attempt at explaining a complex issue. However, you haven't fully explained the range of intersex disorders. Semenya can't have complete AIS as with that condition she would not have any male features at all. You're right, partial versions are a possibility. The other possibility is she has female chromosomes but has had a lifetime of exposure to excessive male hormones from a condition such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

    But the most important issue you raise last; when people find out about these conditions they have a whole team of specialists to deal with issues, and a diagnosis is a huge thing for a person to deal with, and it is very sad she will have to deal with this in the public eye.

    And finally it is going to be very interesting to see how the IAAF rule when her diagnosis is made. If she is a female who has had a lifetime of exposure to male hormones that is not her fault, such as with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, is that an unfair advantage? Similarly is she is a male 46XY who has partial AIS, so her male hormones don't take the full effect they should, meaning she is more woman like, is that an unfair advantage?

    I think no for the first scenario, and possibly for the second. I'm hoping for the first so she can keep her medal.

  • Comment number 17.

    Well said BennyBlanco. Besides the scientific result on Her, should all athletes now be tested for all of these abnormalities? Could you imagine what would happen if one of the top athletes, in any sport, should find out that there might be a "slight"(and I say this because the media will have a field day on any sportsperson) abnormality, and we have to investigate, because, it is impossible for you to perform so well, according to "normal standards" !

  • Comment number 18.


    your comments are completely unfounded and could be seen as hurtful to some people

    the PARALYMPIC games actually have very strict entry requirments that ensure atheletes of the same ability compete against each other

    its not that anyone who is DISABLED as you put it can claim a place in the these games and expect to win

    im amazed your comments were allowed on the BBC website

  • Comment number 19.

    Hey Chelsea, I did ask for the correct phrase, and thank you for giving it.

    Like you said, : "atheletes of the same ability compete against each other"

    You did not say anything about the athletes with disabilities. That's the whole point.

    I'm sorry if there is something personal in your life, but like I said about my friend, there is nothing wrong with her, but she has to go to the "PARA-OLYMPICS", whereas she could do just as well against the best in te world at the "OLYMPICS".

  • Comment number 20.


    Sorry if you take offence, but read all of the blogs here. It's not about being disabled, it's about fair competition. You just stated that "of the same ability compete against each other" , what about the ones that stand out? Which brings us back to the point of not being able to compete because of...? Paralymics. What now? We have people too good. Should we have a "Gifted Olympics" for the over-achievers?

  • Comment number 21.

    It is clearly an unfortunate situation for her, however, it has most likely been a problem for a large portion of her life and she could have had it checked out and possibly taken testosterone prevention drugs (TVD). If she truly has an unfair advantage over her fellow competitors then she should not be allowed to race. Yvonne Miranthis - an open or mixed event is a ridiculous notion. Professional athletes compete in the hope of winning predominately. In a mixed or open category this would be impossible for the female athletes.

  • Comment number 22.


    To her and her family it has never been a problem she should get checked out, and have seen where she is from? I imagine she doesn't have access to top quality health care. South Africa struggles to provide basic medications in many areas, let alone the ones you mentioned. The way the IAAF guy was talking it is as if she has never known or suspected, so there is no deliberate cheating. As I said earlier unfair advantage is going to be a really tricky thing to decide.

  • Comment number 23.

    Giggleherbert - how on earth can you suggest that the Williams sisters sexuality is in question and somehow comparable to this case? Please stop with these absolutely ridiculous assertions.

    As for Semenya the IAAF have been guilty of handling this matter in a truly irresponsible and insensitive manner. This woman is now the target for some extremely nasty comments because of their stupidity. That they have not apologised for how and when they leaked this just serves to underline their ignorant attitude.

  • Comment number 24.

    Gender is not the same thing as sex...

  • Comment number 25.

    We must always remember that there is usually some degree of genetic advantage in most instances of brilliance be it in athletics or in other spheres of life. I sincerely do not think that she should be stripped of her medal if she turns out to have some masculine genetic labels. How do you investigate Usain Bolt's, assuming he has some kind of mutation that confers the ability on him? Why not disqualify those who environmental circumstances allow to win Gold medals in long distance running? The truth is that these people work hard to get to where they are, and it is safe to assume that they were competing innocently, and unaware of the specifics of whatever ability nature has conferred upon them.

  • Comment number 26.

    What of all those muscled "ladies", mostly from Eastern Europe, who do discuss, javelin and shot put? IAAF is not seeing that these are no ladies? They are completely men and have far more muscles than Sementhya. Problem is we tend to focus more on races we are less familiar with.

  • Comment number 27.

    Excellent article. Finally precise information about these controversial issues. Also very relevant to get aware that the possibility of a suicide attempt is not unlikely when a test tell us that our gender is not our gender, as the case of the Indian athlete shows. It totally amazes me that most people, (IAAF, journalists, fellow athletes (like Mayte Martinez), fans, etc) haven't even thought of the massive psychological impact their rude treatment of the sexuality of a human being. I reckon that athletes from other countries would have never been treated that way.
    Excellent article, this qualityis very uncommon in BBC sport articles. Thank you very much

  • Comment number 28.

    Regarding the athletes with disabilities - there is no reason why they would not be allowed to compete in the Olympics if they are good enough to compete with able-bodied athletes. There have been cases of that happening before. The only question arises where there is a chance that artificial aids could give them an unfair advantage as was discussed in the case of "blade runner" Pistorius.

  • Comment number 29.

    i am astoned as the world stand and wacthes real cases of ouright sexual discrimination. nature has created it and anybody with such malformations has the right to normal life semenya may be what people think she is but htis does not stop her from living and participating in any sporting activity.
    i very much criticised the olympic federations for doing little to sole this natural injustice. know very well that such conditions do exist they are supposed to have come up with competitions and srategies to help all those having such deformities and reducing the stigma that will follow in such cases. semenya is just a victim of human unfairness

  • Comment number 30.

    It does seem very conceivable that there are very complex factors at work here; I would be amazed if Semenya is a cheat, despite the rapid improvement making suspicions all too easy (and steroid abuse can lead to male characteristics in females - but what use would steroids be for anything resembling a distance race anyway?). Perhaps it is the case that hormonal changes have only happened recently?

    Either way, I admire the detail in this article, and I hope this is played out in private and handled more sensitively than it has been thus far. The timing has been most unfortunate although I'm not sure how much the IAAF can be blamed for that timing.

  • Comment number 31.

    As usual a straightforward discussion on a specific issue gets hi jacked into red herrings and sub agendas such as disability sport. Disability sport is now a PC equality charade totally out of touch with reality and has become another ism or phobia that we musn't mention or comment upon in anything else but a positive way. To seek, for example, to present the events of the Paralympics as a spectacle on par with the Olympics is, in my objective and unemotional view, dishonest. That's not to say that in the context of disability sport, the achievements of the competitors are not to be applauded. Are we seriously saying, for example that wheelchair tennis doubles at Wimbledon holds any real thrall or spectacle for anybody? As with wheelchair racing. Wheelchair racing is just that - wheelchair racing. I could mention other disability sports. My contention is that in this age of PC equality and diversity in all things, including sport, disability sport has become a ' sacred cow ' and really detracts from rather than adds to the dignity and courage of it's participants and smacks somewhat of hypocrisy when the media mafia seek to pretend that disability doesn't exist except in the minds of the unenlightened. We already have the aberation of tennis as a Olympic sport. Will we next have wheelchair tennis?
    And to draw the Wiilams sisters into the discussion concerning the gender of Semenya, as a comparison,as one contributor has done,is a odious and disgusting comment.
    Yes the matter has been insensitively handled. But that being said surely there has to be measurable standards for eligibility to compete?

  • Comment number 32.

    Unfortunately I think that the deserved sympathy for Semenya's public humiliation has clouded many people's judgment. The implications of racism, inevitable in a Godwin's rule fashion, on behalf of the authorities is unfounded and unhelpful. Gender testing was brought in as a response to perceived gender irregularities among white European athletes (mostly Soviet competitors) and has caught out white athletes in the past. In addition the IAAF (the IOC are not relevant here) are not making a hooplah just because she won. The fuss began before she even raced and the ASA deserve much blame as well because of their bungled handling of the situation and failure to nip the problem in the bud before the championship.

    With regards to macgroover's comment, gender testing was mandatory up until Atlanta 1996 (I think). Although it sounds rude and crass to say this, and it probably is, it is not prima facie unreasonable to suspect Semenya of being intersex. In some of the counterexamples suggested above, Williams sisters etc, it is more apparent that they are women, albeit women that have toned and bulked up because of strong secondary sexual charateristics, e.g. feminine voice pitch, breasts, hip shapes, etc, or other evidence, i.e. feminine characteristics when younger and pre-training.

    The suggestion that an open or mixed event should be held is seriously flawed. It would not be some happy grand occasion where all kind of people come together to race and bathe in our essential equalness, it would just be a men's event. In each discipline the male competitors' results are clearly higher, faster, stronger, better. the only reason we have female athletes at this championship is because it has been decided to restrict some competitions to that particular subsection of the population. That is the reality of the situation. A dividing line has to drawn and that will mean that occasionally someone will fall on the other side. When at the margin it is unclear then appropriate tests will need to be carried out. Checking the birth certificate is flawed for the obvious reason that it could be wrong. The existence and fairness of female participation in most sport is predicated on upholding the gender restriction in much the same way the existence and fairness of smaller boxers' competitions is predicated on weight divisions. This is not about eliminating all genetic advantages or making people conform to normality. You can be as freaky as like within your category.

  • Comment number 33.

    I'm absolutely disgusted with the way the IAAF have handled this.

    There was no reason for them to reveal any information about such sensitive tests, at least until after the results were through. They are allowing her to compete, still, so there was no reason for any of this to come to light unless they had to make a decision that changed the results later down the line. That they allowed this to leak is unacceptable.

    Even taking away the serious psychological issues that having her sex debated very publicly will cause (and, as someone has already stated-sex and gender are not the same thing), this will surely also affect her mental preparation for the finals.

    Thank you for creating an article that has, at least, tried to give a little information about some forms of sexual genetic variances (even if this article just shows a glassful from an ocean). A friend of mine has Turner's Syndrome (yet another of the many genetic conditions that can affect sex and/or gender) so, although I'm by no means well educated in the subject, I have made an effort to understand more about it and similar conditions. Some people are woefully ignorant about the subject and the one good thing about this situation is that, hopefully, a few more people will dispose of that ignorance.

    It is just highly unfortunate that Semenya has to suffer in the process, which I'm sure she is doing.

  • Comment number 34.

    The IAAF keeps getting it in the neck, but it seems as if the main culprits here are her fellow competitors and the media. It is the media that report 'concerns' from fellow athletes that she had gotten 'too good, too quickly' and maay be male. The media then asked the IAAF if she had been tested, what they could say other than, 'not yet' is beyond me. The media then get to commentate on itself (its favourite pass-time anyway). Anyway, she has my deepest sympathy for what must be a painful slight on her greatest achievement.

  • Comment number 35.

    No offence, but this article seems to be aimed at Semenya definitely having some kind of genetic disease or disorder. Has it not been considered that she could be 100% female and there is nothing wrong with her?! I mean everyone appears to be feeling sorry for a girl who is going to have to go through this humiliation as she is given the results of her test. The humiliation is happening now, and when she turns out to be female there are going to be a lot more questions asked about how ridiculously this has been dealt with. I am going to admit, when I saw the first pictures of her from winning the African Juniors I thought I was looking at a boy, and this was 4 weeks ago, before there was any word of a gender test... and when I read that she had ran 1:56 and was a girl I certainly had my thoughts on the subject, but too many assumptions have been made, and too openly. Give this girl a break, and I say girl as that is what she will be unless proven otherwise by tests which should have been done in privacy. I mean, people who FAIL A samples tests aren't even announced, and they have actually failed a first round test! I think this is a disgrace and Semenya should be compensated irrespective of the results.

  • Comment number 36.

    I find it amazing some people are calling Semenya male because of her looks. Did anyone check out some others at these games now? Discus thrower Aimine Song, shot putters Meiju Li, Lijiao Gong and Christina Schwanitz all appear very "masculine". There are other shot putters from the past and present like Nadzeya Ostapchuk, Svetlana Krivelyova, thunder-thighs Ilona Slupianek and top-of-the-heap Irina Korzhanenko. Was their gender ever questioned, or have we presumed their appearance was for other reasons, especially the last 4 mentioned? Then we come to the track. There were and are some very muscular runners. Zhanna Block, Maria Mutola, Gail Devers, Carmelita Jeter, Sanya Richards, Kerron Stuart, Delloreen Ennis-London, Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, Damu Cherry to name a few, are very muscular, in fact MORE muscular than Semenya. How about Amy Mbacke Thiam? Are they all men? Marion Jones has a similarly long upper body shape and she is no man - children to prove it! Is it because Semenya didn't wear the booty shorts like the other ladies, but preferred the type the men wear? Is it because she doesn't have the stereotypical female facial features? There are plenty women whom without makeup or stylish hair could pass for a man. Last year Pamela Jelimo ran 1.54:01, faster than Semenya. Is she a man? Are all the women with deep voices gender-tested? Does the IAAF test every athlete? Is the problem with Semenya because she has no breasts? Look around that Berlin stadium daily!

  • Comment number 37.

    Continuation from 11.26pm posting:
    Isn't there an ex-East German athlete who because of the ingestion of so much drugs which masculinised her has actually gotten a gender-reassignment operation? Is she still a woman? There are long and middle-distance male runners who have nary a developed muscle to show. Should they get gender tests, or would that only be done if they have "effeminate" facial features, voices or mannerisms? Did anyone ask Semenya's parents for past photos, speak to the neighbours, other family members, her school mates or check school records to prove there isn't any great conspiracy? Have her critics including some fellow athletes considered she is just naturally talented? Literally every year a new spring of talented athletes emerges from Ethiopia and especially Kenya. It is automatically presumed their success comes naturally. Natural talent exists everywhere in every discipline and hers was discovered in time for these championships. Look at Usain Bolt. If he had stuck to the 200m, no one would have known he was such a fantastic 100m sprinter. That natural talent would have remained dormant undeveloped and undiscovered. If Semenya is not chased from track by these allegations, I could see some heated contests between her and a fully-fit Pamela Jelimo. In tennis Amelie Mauresmo went through "she is a man" accusations as well. She was even dubbed "Madamoiselle muscles". She shook it off and ended up with 2 majors.

  • Comment number 38.

    Has the IAAF asked that former East German who had the gender reassignment to return any medals won since she is now a "he"? In her masculinisation process when exactly did she become a he? Semenya's 800m time improved by 7 sec from a few weeks ago. Was she female then and male now? There is talk about facial hair. I am 47 now and there are a couple prickly hairs on my chin I didn't have at 27 that keep regrowing. Lord have mercy, I'm a man now! This morning (my time) I watched the women's long jump. Any "female impersonators" there? Hmmmm, I wonder.....

  • Comment number 39.

    Gordon, I've just read your latest article (

    Can you think of an athlete where there has been quite so much speculation around such vastly improved times, where there hasn't been something unusual going on?
    I'm thinking back to Ben Johnson, Flo Jo, Jarmila Kratochvílová, Junxia Wang & Yu and drawn a blank.

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    i know its off topic, but can people stop getting Gender and Sex mixed up?! why is there such a taboo over the word...
    But on topic, i agree there should be 'Mixed' classes. without being sexist, men are faster than women and women with excessive male hormones would (theorietically) be faster and therefore win all the races...

  • Comment number 42.

    I think regardless of the side issues that have arisen in this debate, surely everyone must agree that the Athletic Governing Body have handled this whole affair extremely badly.

    Firstly, the timing of their announcement, on the day of the final, was at best poorly judged, and at worst totally out of order. This whole situation should have been dealt with in private from day 1, Semenya from what I have seen has handled this situation remarkable well for someone of that age. Whatever the results, I do not think the big issue here is whether Semenya is male, female or somewhere in between. The issue is that a Governing Body of any sport that handles any subject as sensitive at this in such an inconsiderate fashion should take a step back and have a good hard look at themselves and the way they do their business.

    Quite frankly, I don't particularly care for the test results, the real outcome of this whole messy affair needs to be the athletic governing body reviewing their methods to ensure this does not happen again.

  • Comment number 43.

    This is not a simple case, we are all different and no one needs to apologise about how they were born. The problem here is if she is trans gender, what ever that means, then it has to be unfair on the other female athletes. Men and women participate in different classes because they are different. Unless everyone, regardless of sex race against each other this gives unfair advantage to her, even though she is not to blame. Other female athletes, despite their hours of training can't compete with her, so with sadness I would not allow to compete.

  • Comment number 44.

    Saying that her birth certificate reads 'female' does not guarantee this. If she had external female genitalia then that would be what was identified. The problem is that internally she may be a man, which is not obvious to detect without a proper investigation. It is her internal genetics which I think will define her.
    I am going to sit on the fence about what I think should happen afterwards, because it is that complex and way beyond my expertise. However I would say that most of the media on all sides has been unhelpful. Firstly there was the indefensible initial leak by the IAAF, drugs cheats get treated with more anonymity than Semenya has, and also she is not even the first case, there are previous unnamed athletes who have had this investigation. The fact that we still don't know who they are shows that anonymity can be maintained.
    After the fallout, the speculative media puts a lot of unfair pressure on Semenya, because they are effectively questioning her entire life so far, in not the most subtle way. However, I don't think the South African media have helped either. While it's fine to show sympathy for her plight, I think that trying to prove that she can actually be feminine with a makeover, and some of the arguments put forward (such as the birth certificate and photos of her childhood), are fallible. At best, they are patronising, at worst they are misguided and will cause Semenya greater pain in the long run should the verdict be that she is a man. The smokescreen of sexism and racism should not be considered either, they are irrelevant to questioning her sex.
    And the fact that Semenya is not even the fastest woman in the field, even possibly with an advantage, does not matter. I'm sure many men (myself included) wouldn't be able to run as fast as Pamela Jelimo, but that is not sufficient to accuse Jelimo of being a man or Semenya of definitely being a woman.

  • Comment number 45.

    The bottom line is that ANY persons medical history, or tests for that matter, should be held in the greatest of confidence. This poor person's condition is being tossed around by the press, IAAF and ASA. Its utterly disgusting to witness...

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    Athletics is based upon genetic mutations conferring advantage to certain people - Bolt is 6ft 5 yet has the stride frequency of someone 5ft 9: sure this is an extreme case but she should still be allowed to compete.

  • Comment number 48.

    re: "Why is there this concern, when the physical size and muscular shape of the Williams tennis players, and the 100metre american runners has been with us for years."

    I don't think there's ever been any doubt expressed about the Williams sisters. Whilst they are muscular, they clearly have a womanly shape, and their progress was documented from a very early age.

    However, tennis does provide some interesting comparisons. German player Sarah Ronert was born with both male and female genitalia but had surgery at 19 to remove her male parts. I believe that she is currently allowed to play on the women's tennis cuircuit although she continues to provoke considerable controversy.

    And in the late 70s, Renee Richards caused controversy. Born Richard Raskind, she had gender reassignment surgery and then started to play on the women's tennis circuit. At first, she was banned with the authorioties citing a policy that players had to be women-born, but she challenged this and was subsequently able to play, with some success.

    I agree with the mass sentiment that Semenya is a victim rather than a villain in this piece. However, she is not the only victim. The women who were beaten by her may well have been at an unfair disadvantage and it's not an easy matter to resolve satisfactorily.

  • Comment number 49.

    If you want to make a distinction between a man and a woman then you have to have a classifying system, I really don't see why people are so uptight over the issue. Yes it's unfortunate the way its been handled but it's something that needs resolving.

    Any arguments about "her being raised as a woman" and "that's what is says on her birth certificate" are totally irrelevant. When you choose to compete in any sport at an international level then you are going to be held to a higher standard, especially in a sport where drug taking and rule bending are so prevalent. So given the nature of her rapid raise to success at a world level by an enormous winning margin, there were always going to be questions asked, and accusing fingers pointed. Show me a case of a woman competing as a man and wining and questions being raised over "his" gender, then I would probably be far less cynical about the matter, because nobody would care if she hadn't won. When you make that kind of impact then you lay yourself open to scrutiny, which is simply a reailty of the sport and the world in which we live.

  • Comment number 50.

    Heres the thing, whatever the result of the tests its the IAAFs fault for not having strict policies on the issue. They need to rule once and for all how to deal with these situations. The IAAF have to protect all competitors, if conditions like these give an unfair advantage in a very gender dependant sport then they must rule now.

    Caster should keep her medal, i dont think they should retroactively apply these rules.

  • Comment number 51.

    Semenya was tested as her time improved so markedly, in keeping with IOC policy, not because she "looked like a man" or because she's African. Seriously, not everything needs to have a racial element...

    The South African authorities should absolutely be ashamed of themselves for the "Third World War" remark. That's callous and disrespect to those who fought and died in the world wars. This is an IOC matter and whilst there needs to be repercussions for the IOC for letting this story be leaked, it is still only a fairly unimportant sporting matter.

  • Comment number 52.

    Why does Bolt's name have anything to do with this debate? Can't people accept that some people are truely gifted? People have broken a world record for the 20th time, are those persons not human too?

  • Comment number 53.

    We should simply look at whether there is a level playing field or more aptly track. Yes this has been insentively handled all along the line, but it would confuse issues to hand-wring over nationality or race.

  • Comment number 54.

    I thought we were all now supposed to be indiscriminate. The solution is simple. Forget the seperate mens and womens events, and even the paralympics. Replace them with events open to ALL to see who is the fastest (runner, swimmer, wheelchair racer...), strongest, most technically gifted PERSON etc. The paradox is that I suspect the only people who will object to this are those who campaigned for equal rights over the last centuary or so!

  • Comment number 55.

    With the way the South African authorities are behaving over this, one could question whether they are best suited to host any sporting event!!

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    Bolt's times may be the results of unusal genetic mutations, but there is no sign of them affecting his status as a man. This poor lady may be technically male, even if she displays female genetalia externally, unfortunately your external genatalia have little to do with your ability at sport, it is the interal differences that do, and so if someone is internally a male then they must compete as a man or not at all.

    In sports which are split up into different genders there is genrally good reason, and that is that the genetic makeup of humanity means that at peak performance physically men can achieve greater heights of performance, and therefore it would be unfair to compare the two.

    Socially it doesnt (or at least shoudnt, unfortunately the world is rarely as it should be) matter if someone thinks acts and is treated like a woman inspite of being gentically male, but in sports the field is split to enable women to compete with women being a man physically is unfair even if mentally you are female.

  • Comment number 58.

    The leaking is disgraceful. Someone is anxious that bthe public should be influenced against the athlete.
    As for the blogger who put in the remark about the'suspicious' voice, I suppose Marlene Dietrich and Helen Shapiro had better own up, too.
    These athletic quango people are a pretty silly-sounding lot.

  • Comment number 59.

    Regardless of the findings, assuming that she is found to have not knowingly cheated, two things should definately happen.

    First, She should be allowed to keep her medal (providing any gender anomoly was unbeknown to her at the time of competition). She eneterd a race, was allowed to enter it by the organisers and, as far as we know, has not cheated.

    Second, whosoever in the IAAF revealed that she was under investiagtion should be fired. Drug cheats get protection until they are found guily. She may be guilty of nothing yet is having an intensley personal medical issue being played out by the media and, to their shame, SA politicians.

    IF she is found to have a gender abmormalitiy, I fear that she may, however, not be allowed to race, certainly in a womens race, again. It would be only a short time before a competitor lodged a complaint (i.e. she has XY chromosomes, for example), which would dog her career. Perhaps she should be allowed to run in a mens race, based on her being genetically more similar to a male if she is XY?

    One questions keeps bugging me, though. Her times have improved by a massive 8 seconds this year alone. If she has a congenital gender defect, wouldn't she have been this good since puberty? Why does the difference only kick in at age 18? Why are SA government being so aggressive in their stance? Or is there more to this than meets the eye?

  • Comment number 60.

    This issue has revealed an obvious problem with the way athletics proceeds as though human beings can be neatly categorised as male or female.

    Nature is not so simple. There have always been people "in between". But there is nothing "wrong" with being a hermaphrodite - it's not a "malfunction" in a normative sense. Just a variation.

    So what's the future for athletics? Here's one thing they could do: abolish all categories, and just let all human beings compete against each other.

    Of course, the typical woman would struggle against the typical man. But perhaps it's better to face up to this disparity, rather than separating people arbitrarily and making people like Semenya feel like non-humans.

  • Comment number 61.

    There is no doubt that the sports authorities in South Africa were aware of the 'uncertainties' around her gender. That they chose to ignore the opportunities to support or refute these 'uncertainties' prior to any major comoetition speaks volumes to their culpability. Now that all has been revelaed, they are crying foul.

  • Comment number 62.

    It's an interesting one that's for sure. Does this mean she actually has male genitalia? Does this explain her long shorts?

  • Comment number 63.

    Austalian media have a lot to answer for, twice breaking stories that have the potential to devestating the life of a talented young athlete.
    How can the Oz media have such a vacuum of ethics and compassion? Reading some of their articles they seem to delight in the fact that she has been "caught".

    This whole thing could've been dealt with in private and Semenya probably would've simply retired from the sport if the IAAF ruled she could no longer run.

  • Comment number 64.

    59. At 3:40pm on 11 Sep 2009, Rich_Owl wrote:

    One questions keeps bugging me, though. Her times have improved by a massive 8 seconds this year alone. If she has a congenital gender defect, wouldn't she have been this good since puberty? Why does the difference only kick in at age 18? Why are SA government being so aggressive in their stance? Or is there more to this than meets the eye?


    I dont think its anything like that. If you look at the conditions she grew up in, the diet, the lack of facilities etc it isnt too far-fetched to see how she could improve vastly with the correct diet, decent coach etc.

    I dont think the SA government are hiding anything - they're just playing to their persecution complex.

  • Comment number 65.

    This poor girl (and she is a girl, for that is how she has been brought up) deserves our sympathy and respect. If she does indeed have IAS, then not only is she about to discover that her sporting career is in jeopardy, she will also learn that she will never have children and may find it difficult to form lasting relationships with the opposite sex. Having said that, she will never have menstruated, so one wonders how unaware of her condition she is. Given her background though, she may never have had the opportunity to investigate further.

  • Comment number 66.

    "SA threatens 'war' over Semenya

    South African officials step up their defence of runner Caster Semenya, warning of a "third world war" if she is prevented from competing in a row over her sex."

    ....did you write this Mr Farquhar? Don't you think the hamming-up of the 'war' statement is a tad Sun-esque, not to mention ridiculously provocative, given that it was clearly used as a figure of speech?

    Base journalism in my view...

  • Comment number 67.

    My understanding is that it is the responsibility of the national governing body to ensure that an athlete meets the conditions of the competition they are being entered for. If any athlete gets as far as a world championship final without these issues being dealt with, it is the fault of the national body.
    The IAAF is only trying to preserve competition under its existing rules. If it did not do this, who would want to race under their banner?
    One presumes most national bodies sort out these potential problems in house and in advance of any international competition, not least to protect the athletes.

  • Comment number 68.

    66. At 4:23pm on 11 Sep 2009, titotheragingbull wrote:

    That's actually quoted verbatim tito... South African politicians still think they're in the "struggle" and everyone is against them.

  • Comment number 69.

    I feel an awful lot of sympathy for Caster, but the behaviour of the South African government has been atrocious. They have stepped up the heat of the debate a hundred fold by essentially refusing to accept any decision the IAAF reaches, unless it is the one they want. Certainly the governing body has shown itself to be incompetent in its handling of this, a matter that should have been held in strictest confidence, but there is no excuse for the threatening rhetoric of certain SA officials.

  • Comment number 70.

    Extra high Thestosterone is a doping.
    I prefer to decide this story in the possible Athletic mix.
    Average point must be define Semenya like Champion or
    Bronze or Silver and soon. But in woman rating only.

  • Comment number 71.

    70. At 4:46pm on 11 Sep 2009, Kiselev wrote:

    Lance Armstrong has a heart that is 30% larger than the average man. Is that also doping?

  • Comment number 72.

    71. Sorry allow me to clarify: Armstrong's heart is 30% larger than it should be for his size. In other words he has the heart the size of a 6'6 man when he is only 5'6.
    Genetic anomaly - but is it doping?

    I'm not saying Semenya should be able to run against women - just refuting Kiselev in that he/she claims this is doping.

  • Comment number 73.

    IMO what is ultimately sad in this whole episode is that the whole of sport suffers thru whatever final conclusion is arrived at. Successful sports stars within popular disciplines such as athletics, golf or tennis, in general receive huge global fame and the fortune that goes with it. These factors themselves more than likely are the single biggest cause of the drug cheating that has went on.
    The simple aspect of grouping stereotypical males or females against each other to arrive at an overall winner has been hyped to mean so much more this past 30 years or so, probably as a spin-off from the cold war propaganda machines.
    Nowadays, there are £millions to be made from having a sporting talent which can also bring with it national acclaim and knighthoods.

    Just imagine if Semenya's talent had been in tennis, ski'ing or womans boxing. Ultimately, the same issues could have been justifiably raised with relevance. Her competitors could argue to a degree that she has an unfair advantage via her body's capacity to be overwhelmingly stronger than their stereotypical female body.

    It is ultimately a great shame that an individual who is only interested in testing themselves in the field of sport against other like-minded individuals could find themselves in a no-man's land where they have no eligibility.
    The sad fact is however, that we have stood back and watched sport become something more significant than what it was really meant to be.

  • Comment number 74.

    I tend to agree with poster's #57 and # 67 here on this very complex matter.
    There is absolutely no need to pull out the race card or for the SA Athletic and Government spokespersons to threaten WW 3 !
    The IAAC didn't handle this case very well at all , but the continued hoopla is also pretty distasteful ( I don't mean blogs ) and in the fullness of time my hope is that the gender guidelines and ' qualification ' requirements will be clearly defined.
    I suppose the athlete in question will become the celebrity test case and will maybe decide it's not worth the fuss, Good luck.

  • Comment number 75.

    What worries more about this situation is the fact that this person took 7 seconds off their best time for the 800m in less than a year. Now you don't do that unless something is amiss. If she/he is not taking drugs then how the heck can you take manage to improve that fast that quickly?
    The South African Federation is adopting a very stupid stance and they should have observed the IAAF's request prior to the World Championships not to send this runner until thorough checks had been carried out and then much embarrassment, particularly to the person, would have been avoided. Even now they are threatening the Governing body of athletics. That is most upsetting and unwarranted.

  • Comment number 76.

    "I think regardless of the side issues that have arisen in this debate, surely everyone must agree that the Athletic Governing Body have handled this whole affair extremely badly."

    Not really - the person leaking such extremely personal information is the one who has caused this whole affair to go so badly.

  • Comment number 77.

    This whole issue stinks and has been handled in an amateur manner by both the IAAF and the IOC.
    If there was any doubt about Semenyas sexuality then both bodies had a duty to the other athletes to investigate and nobody will argue against that but it should have been done quietly, without the publicity it has attracted, AND done well before any major competitions.
    Whether the tests are positive or negative makes no difference, because from the time the story was put into the public domain Semenya has been looked upon by many as a freak of nature. This girls career has been ruined by the tittle tattle and you can only feel sorry for her.

  • Comment number 78.

    i'd say she eats thru razors

  • Comment number 79.

    The ignorance here is astounding. Understand the facts before you comment! The IAAF asked the SA Athletics Federation NOT to bring her to the championships because of questionable results from preliminary tests. This has happened before and a country's body normally agrees, but SA stuck two fingers up and refused.

    The reason she is under scrutiny is her massive rise to prominence. In athletics you simply don't improve to the extent she did in such a short time. You also don't beat other world class athletes so easily. Thirdly, she massively increased in size over a short period of time. That suggests something doesn't add up, hence the tests.

    The fact SA athletics ignored the IAAF request meant she was exposed to question by the world and by journalists. The IAAF request was made simply to save embarrassment all round. Can you all not see this has been engineered by SA politicians to increase favour? If anyone should be ashamed it should be SA officials, for exploiting her. If you still feel she should be able to compete, don't be surprised if other female athletes (rightly) boycott the event. Sport is supposed to be fair - and I am afraid Caster has a, perhaps unfortunate, advantage.

  • Comment number 80.

    This has been handled applaingly form day one. The IAAF have shown no subtly or respect in handling this incredibly delicate matter. I understand this is hardly routine but the tests and results should have been completley confidential. Scientists and IAAF officals should have discusses all and any results with SA and Semanya. Then when all tests had been concluded and a firm results reached, then the Media informed.
    Their is no excuse for the way the results were made public and an offical enquiry is a must. What we must remember is the effect this will have on Semenya and her family. It is all well and good that the South African nation have rallied around her, but the anger and embarassment cause must be humiliating and demoralising.
    A very delicate matter handled with no subtlty or care.

  • Comment number 81.

    I dont really have any interest in athletics, but I do find the "third world war" comments to be very distasteful.

    It's a debate about people in sport for heavens sake, what has a world war got to do with it? I find those comments bizarre and they should refrain from making them. It's a pathetic way to make a point, no matter how strongly they feel.

    I wonder how the relatives of people who burned under a nuclear cloud in Hiroshima would feel about Africa's willingness to invoke reference to war in such a pathetic manner. Perhaps if Africa want a world war so badly, someone should demonstrate to them what it actually entails.

  • Comment number 82.

    The South Africans authorities should really be quiet, and stop trying to prejudge the results of the gender tests.

    The IAAF, however poorly they have handled this, have no vendetta against Semenya, and no motivation for damaging her career. Their motivation is simply to ensure that her participation in their events is not in breach of the pre-existing rules. To determine whether this is so, they need to carry out complex testing procedures.

    The South African authorities have not carried out such tests on Semenya, and so they are in no position to prejudge their outcome. If she is found to have an intersex condition which gives her an advantage over other female competitors, then that means she will not be allowed to compete as a woman until the condition has been treated. This is not a new rule, it has been in place for years, and has already been enforced in the past.

    Why the South Africans think that they or she should have some kind of special exemption from the rules on these matters has not been made clear: and, I would suggest, is unlikely to be.

  • Comment number 83.

    As a Gynaecologist i find this sad but it is a fact of life. It is not a common condition but have seen it a number of times. The South African authorities must have had some suspicions. The South African Council has a Medical team and they must have had some questions about her. South Africa has some of the best Medical Schools in the world and its Physicians are of a very high calibre.My feeling is that they did not evaluate the situation fully enough and are now caught "with their pants down" and thus screaming all hell instead of accepting the possibility of an unfavourable result and letting the situation take its course peacefully. This would have been the fairest outcome for this unfortunate athlete, after all the I.A.A.F. had allow her to keep her medal.
    One other comment--If the results do reveal an Intersex Problem,then all theXX(female) athletes after all their hard years of training are not in a fair competitive situation, if she is allowed to compete against them.
    It is sad but it is a fact of life. It could have easily been handled professionally and ethically with no embarassment for Semenya.

  • Comment number 84.

    everyone has opinions and no one has the right to come on here and say someones opinion is a disgrace.

  • Comment number 85.

    Im sorry but that Chick is a Dude Plain & Simple
    But it shows fair Balls for the Saffers to contest it but it plain as day that she has got a pair

  • Comment number 86.

    So, this athletes physiology - for that is what the press are titillating over as genes and anatomy imparts effects on physiology - may give her an advantage over other female athletes. So does the physiology of athletes born and raised in the Rift valley. Will the IAAF screen all Kenyan women for partculars of their oxygen utilisation capacities from birth compared to sea-level dwellers? That might sound ridiculous but where is the difference? Oh that's right. The notion that the case involves something, somehow, somewhere to do with a narrow-minded classification of sexuality dressed up as 'gender'.

    SThey are not subjected to

  • Comment number 87.

    Finally the ANC has more than met its match in that it cannot control and/or 'massage' the official outcome of this sad situation. ASA could and should have taken the necessary steps to protect Caster prior to exposing her to the world stage. The bumbling ANC politicians should stick to what they do best - being corrupt and running SA into the ground! Viva the truth Viva!

  • Comment number 88.

    "Why if she has a female birth certificate is anyone even interested in challenging this?"

    Because "she" is not a woman, regardless of what "her" birth certificate says.

  • Comment number 89.

    "Regardless of the findings, assuming that she is found to have not knowingly cheated, two things should definately happen."

    It may be that the South African sporting authorities cheated. What then?

  • Comment number 90.

    "I find it amazing some people are calling Semenya male because of her looks."

    People are describing her as male because of her masculine levels of testosterone and lack of a womb and ovaries, not because of her "looks".

  • Comment number 91.

    I am sick of the politics that is becoming an ever increasing part of sport on the BBC. Semenya's gender, F1 cheating, Football transfer bans/scandals, Blood scandal in rugby to name but a few. I feel that these events are given far more coverage than they are due. Can we please stick more to the actual sport and not the gossip. Are we so bored with the achievements that sportsmen and women make that we need to resort to this drivel?

  • Comment number 92.

    I think somebody made the point about why there wasn't a problem at the beginning of the race and only after she had won. Seems right to me.

    She certainly looks male to me, but at the risk of being simplistic I would ask, " Is she capable of having children?" If the answer is yes, then she must compete as a female. Only female's have children.

    There may be all sorts of chromosome problems to keep our scientists happy but the fact is only female's have children.

    I still think the initial point is the main one. How come this person has been allowed to get this far in international sport and even start this race without a problem and only after winning is there an issue?

  • Comment number 93.

    rus316 - you have basically said everything that I said in a previous submission but on a different way, but you are absolutely right. We should not be condemning the IAAF we should be condemning the South Africa Athletics Board or whatever it is called, because they put this unfortunate person in this position by not heeding prior warnings from the IAAF. In their greed to win a gold medal they subjected this unfortunate human to world scrutiny and now have subjected this person to the embarrassment of having the world know what the results of medical tests are. The interview which I heard on 5 live with the South Africa Sports Minister was deplorable as he blamed everyone else except his own Country for this situation. Screaming that they would wage war indicates a lack of professionalism and little respect for this unfortnate person who is at the centre of this affair.

  • Comment number 94.

    With respect, I find this athelete's situation quite suspicious. Her name is apparently translated as "secret man". If she were a true hermaphrodite surely she would have ovaries and a womb. There are precedents of males being altered surgically to compete as females and the fact that she has internal testes is a possible indication of medical tampering. While I don't want to jump in and judge without all the facts of the case, I do think it is unfair for genuinely female atheletes to have to compete against someone with three times the normal testoserone levels. The case needs sober investigation and should ignore the emotional pressure coming from the South African authorities.

  • Comment number 95.

    archLionheart - your test of feminity being 'can she have children' is terribly crude. So any female unable to reproduce (and there are a myriad of reasons why this can be the case) shouldn't be allowed to compete in sports? Come on, let's get beyond such simplicity.

    I do think that, for all the understandable concern over Semenya's well-being, the IAAF have to be credited for tackling this issue, because its a major problem. Lets not forget the other competitors in Semenya's race - if they are losing to someone born with a non-female advantage something must be done, otherwise women's sport faces oblivion. Imagine how the woman who came 4th feels, deprived of a medal by someone (and I knw its through no fault of her own) is physically advantaged? What's the point in carrying on competing if this situation isn't addressed? All the posts on here saying 'leave Semenya alone' seem to have little regard for the careers and emotions of the other competitors.

  • Comment number 96.

    South Africa, which has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world, has just threatened to start the Third World War.

    Think VERY carefully before you enter a potential war zone to watch the FIFA World Cup.

  • Comment number 97.

    To be blunt, anyone who thinks racism is a factor in this seems pretty misguided to me.

    It's a complex issue, and it should have been handled much more privately, but I totally fail to see how the accusations of race having an effect can be supported.

    There have been numerous athletes from africa and of african descent who've been winning golds for decades now, why would racism suddenly come into play to stop this one particular athlete?

    Plus, in the past, there have been numerous cases of suspicion, tests and press speculation about blonde white athletes... in particular from the old soviet union. At that time there wasn't the ability to test for complex genetic conditions, but that didn't stop the accusations.

    It seems to me that the IOC can't regulate for every type of genetic variation, so as long as she is a woman externally, (and as long as no testosterone abuse or sugery is suspected) she should get the chance to run. Who's to say that numerous female athletes in the past didn't have similar advantages that couldn't be detected at the time?

  • Comment number 98.

    "Who's to say that numerous female athletes in the past didn't have similar advantages that couldn't be detected at the time?" (soulgrind)

    Yes it has. For example, the 1964 Polish women's relay team was found to have at least one man in the group.
    It may well be that the athlete in question in this case was born the way she is. Then again, it may not be. I don't think the South African authorities are doing her cause any justice by jumping up and down like babies that have spit their dummies. Many athletes, including Lance Armstrong for one example, have had to face scrutiny at times for one reason or another, so no one needs to be given special protection. They are competing for a lot of money nowadays, so it has to be fair. The hysterical accusations of racism, sexism etc are not helpful...and can even be regarded as a tacit admission of guilt.

  • Comment number 99.

    sportisawonderdrug - I appreciate your sentiments but sadly it is unrealistic these days to believe that the sports pages will only include sports news. It would be nice if they did.

    The facts are that 40 years ago when you attended a World Cup you found that 99% of the several hundred accredited journalsits were there to report on the games and for no other reason. Now at World Cups there are thousands of journalists accredited and probably 30-40% of them are actually news reporters who are just looking for stories for the news pages. Some rush straight to the main square in town hoping to get a 'confrontation' story to send back.

    I've actually seen photogaphers 'set-up' a photgraph of English fans looking drunk in a railway station with a few bottles of booze. Their excuse was that it had been so quiet and so little trouble that they needed a photograph to warrant their attendance at the World Cup.

    I wish that FIFA would say 'No' to these journalsits and refuse their accreditation but it is not going to happen and it is likely to get worse, not better.

    Let's not forget that 40 years ago everyone whispered about the Press 'sisters' from the USSR, but nothing happened until one day gender testing was introduced at the Olympics, and the Press sisters went home hurriedly and were never heard of again. On other occasions female athletes complained about the 'lady' using the toilets as 'she' stood to do a pee as opposed to sitting down, but everyone turned a blind eye.

    Thankfully something is now being done to try and avoid similar incidents and while I have every sympathy for Semenya it is the South African authorities who are the real villains in this as they were told not to take this person to Berlin, until tests were carried out, and they ignored the advice in their greed to get a gold medal from somone who improved their 800m time by an incredible 7 secs in less than a year. That says it all.

  • Comment number 100.

    I think her dramatically improved personal best over the last 14 months was something like 13 seconds over 800m. That's why suspicion grew, not to mention the deep voice and the visible facial hair.


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