All I want to do is drink beer and train like an animal.
- Rod Dixon

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News (Losely Speaking): Gender Testing at IAAF Worlds

From the BBC:


Semenya told to take gender test

South Africa's 800m World Championships finalist Caster Semenya has been asked to take a gender verification test, according to athletics' governing body.

The International Association of Athletics Federations says it demanded the test three weeks ago amid fears she should not be able to run as a woman.

IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said the "extremely complex, difficult" test results were not due for several weeks.

South Africa's athletics federation has denied such a test has been demanded.

The 18-year-old Semenya is considered a favourite to win gold in Wednesday's 800m final in Berlin.

She burst onto the world stage earlier this year, running 1.56.72 in Bambous three weeks ago, smashing her previous personal best by more than seven seconds.

She also broke Zola Budd's long-standing South African record and arrived here as the newly-crowned African junior champion.

If it's a natural thing and the athlete has always thought she's a woman or been a woman, it's not exactly cheating
IAAF spokesman Nick Davies

"In the case of this athlete, following her breakthrough in the African junior championships, the rumours, the gossip was starting to build up," added Davies.

"The gender verification test is an extremely complex procedure. The situation today is that we do not have any conclusive evidence that she should not be allowed to run."

A group of doctors, including an endocrinologist, a gynaecologist, an internal medicine expert, an expert on gender and a psychologist, have started the procedure but it is uncertain when the results will be known.

"It would be wrong today to take a decision to withdraw an athlete," said Davies, who said this was not a mandatory or compulsory test and the athlete was in no way suspected of cheating.

"This is a medical condition. It is nothing that she has done. There is a need to make sure rules are followed.

"We are more concerned for the person and not to make this as something that is humiliating."

Story from BBC SPORT:

Published: 2009/08/19 16:31:30 GMT



Wait, What?

"We are more concerned for the person and not to make this as something that is humiliating."

Really? How could this be anything but humiliating? You're taking an 18 y/o (self-identified) girl who is thrust into the world stage by her athletic prowess and ten questioning her gender in an extremely public manner. Where is the concern for the person the IAAF spokesperson Nick Davies is talking about? The only two outcomes are that she (and the world) are informed that she she is an intersex person (a term that doesn't exist in most of the worlds societies) and therefore, at least in the eyes of the IAAF less of a woman than she thought she was, or whoops -- you just look a lot like one. "Our Bad".

Further what are the basis for these accusations?

Caster Semenya, right,crosses the finish line during the women's 800 meters semi-final.

OK - So Caster Semenya (green and yellow at right) has a masculine physique, I get that. And hence the rumors. But hello this is the women's 800m. Does anyone remember a 6-time Olympian named Maria Mutola who won multiple Olympic, world indoor, world outdoor and commonwealth medals (most of them gold)?

Yeah, I thought so. What about Gail Devers's famously muscular body - weave, nails and makeup aside?

Where I'm going with this is that world-class female track and field athletes (particularly outside of distance running) are not uncommonly, lean, muscular, slim hipped and broad shouldered. Why is this one case being singled out?

You might argue it's because Caster Semenya really, like *really* "looks like a dude". Gail Devers has kids and Maria Mutola has a discernible bust but Caster Semenya looks very nearly like man. My response to this would be she passes the "bulge test" and that has to be good enough unless they are prepared to test all their athletes.

If I had to predict I would say that gender testing may become commonplace for all governing bodies of sport in the future. But, if the IAAF wants to get involved in gender testing at this juncture then they have to be fair. If they're are going to test Caster Semenya, and unless they have some information regarding her gender that we are not privy to, they need to test everyone.

Otherwise, unless Tyler Perry's Media, The Waynes Brother's White Girls or Robin Williams' Ms. Doubtfire toes the line - you have to let 'em run.

Ryan has already sent in an application to be "gender-checker" for the pole vaulters, high jumpers, most of the heptathletes, and any cute girls he sees in the stands. I'm imagining something like the audition scene in Zach and Miri with Craig Robinson (Darryl from The Office).


  1. Nice post. I was just talking about Mutola in the same context this morning. :-)

  2. I wish I had read this before my comment on the TWSS blog, makes me seem somewhat redundant.

    Glad we're on the same page.

    I say if she doesn't have a penis, or evidence of having a penis, then she's a chick.

    And yes, there are many female athletes I wouldn't mind "checking their gender" Allison Stokke, the super hot young pole vaulter and one of the interwebs most searched names.

  3. Anonymous1:31 AM

    the difference in the sexes can be seen in the waist, the midsection.