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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Caster Semenya update

The latest report on Caster Semenya is that the gender tests indicate that she is a hermaphrodite. Although a visual inspection reveals her to be female, in fact she has no womb and in place of ovaries has internal testes, which give her a testosterone level three times that of the normal female.

It is ironic that word of this would be released right after You Magazine came out with that ridiculous makeover they did on her last week. Did they think that changing her hairstyle, slapping some makeup on her, and throwing some stylish clothes on her would somehow prove her hormonal mix was normal?

It is unfortunate that the whole matter has been made public. A competitor in the 2007 Asian Games was disqualified on similar grounds; she later tried to commit suicide. Let's hope that Semenya is more resilient.

If the initial reports are true, then Semenya should obviously no longer be allowed to compete in women's races. But no one should lose sight of the fact that she is not a cheat. There is a world of difference between Semenya and Marion Jones. Jones knowingly took steroids and human growth hormone, and then lied about it, brazenly and self-righteously. Semenya was simply born the way she is, and until these tests were conducted, neither she nor her family had any knowledge of her anomalous internal sexual organs.

I read recently that of the three thousand women who were tested at the Beijing Olympics, eight had a Y chromosome. This isn't all that surprising; many top women athletes have more than the usual level of testosterone. This is why they are as strong as they are, and possibly why they gravitated to sports in the first place. But the point is, we never heard of any of them. Their tests were conducted in private, as they should have been, and the women were never exposed to public humiliation. The same should have been done for Semenya.

In the meantime, her last name certainly doesn't help. (What do her "ovaries" produce? Semen? Yeah.)


Evil Sandmich said...

At least she looks more like a woman in that shot than Michelle Obama on a good day.

Ooops, did I say that out loud.....

John Craig said...

I dare you to say that to her face (I wouldn't). M.O. is one fearsome-looking woman, with traps like a world-class sprinter. But I have to say she looks more like a woman, overall, than Caster.

Then again, Caster seems more likable.