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Caster Semenya: Race Against The Norms

Caster Semenya: Race Against The Norms

An Obstacle – Race And Gender Equality In Sport  

One of the biggest trending topics nowadays about Caster Semenya, the South African athlete and her case with IAAF. According to the recent court decision, she now has to regulate her testosterone levels in order to be qualify to compete in international women’s athletics.

The decision was frown upon by many people people was met with an incredible amount of controversy from the critics and herself. Now, even those without the slightest interest in athletics know about her. So, let’s have a look at her life full of achievements and constant fight against IAAF.

Caster Semenya  was born on 7th January 1991 in South Africa. She has a brother and 3 sisters. She is a graduate of a University of North West and majored in sport science.

 ‘I am a woman and I am fast’~Caster Semenya

The seeds of her career were planted when she won the gold in 800 m in 2008 World Junior Championships and 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games.

The following year, she won both the 800 m and the 1500 m races in African Junior Championships, where she also improved her personal best in 800 m. It was a world record at the time. She carried her success onto the World Championships in the same year by winning gold in 800 meters.

Her suddenly escalated success along with her masculine looks raised a lot of questions about her sex. This prompted IAAF to ask her to take a sex verification test. Although the results were not completely revealed in public, it was partially leaked.

There was a strong suggestion about Semenya having an intersex trait and elevated levels of testosterone. More importantly, people believe association failed  to protect Semenya’s privacy and human rights and violation of confidentiality was heavily criticized by Africans, especially by South African politicians, activists and civic leaders.

Although IAAF’s statement was that the test was done to reassure that she wasn’t on any sort of steroids, the request for such a test was attributed to racism and sexism.

Last week after her race a reporter asked Semenya how she feels about all the negativities that’s going around, she said:

”For me you know am blessed that l’ve got such great talent and when you’re a living testimony of God. Nothing can stop you from delivering what you have been given to deliver.. those are their opinion it does not stop me from living, am a human they are human… Am not going to wast my time and focus on the negativities, am gonna enjoy my life ~Caster Semenya 

For the following eight months, she wasn’t allowed to compete in any race until the results were finalized. She was finally able to compete in two minor races in Finland, but she needed some time to reclaim her strength. During 2012 Summer Olympics, she competed in women’s 800 meter where she won the silver medal, losing against Russian athlete Mariya Savinova.

However, the World Anti-Doping Agency and The Court of Arbitration for Sport disqualified Savinova’s results which upgraded Semenya’s silver to gold. She continued winning in 2016’s South African National Olympics as well as Rio Olympics.

Although she continued to gain more and more personal records and national records, the question regarding her gender had always remained unanswered.

The controversy reached a peak when IAAF announced a new rule that required hyperandrogenous athletes to take medication to lower their testosterone levels.

Caster Semenya, however, objected this decision stating that such medications had proven to hinder her performance. She decided to legally challenge IAAF’s decision; however, the Court Arbitration of Sport rejected her cause.

Whether the decision was fair or not, it seems that the issue will remain a trending topic all over the world and cause a clash of ideas regarding racism and gender equality.

See Also

Below are some of the love and  global uproar over this issue




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Source: Africa News/South Africa News/FVV

Photo Credit: Caster Semenya


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