Will Caster Semenya Have To Compete Against Men?

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The new announcement from the Athletics’ world governing body, the IAAF, on Thursday suggests so. The middle distance runner and Olympic gold medalist was subjected to gender testin in 2009 and was withdrawn from international competition until 6 July 2010 when the IAAF cleared her to return to competition.


Caster Semanya
By Paalso Paal Sørensen 2011 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

The South African athlete is hyperandrogenous, which means that she has elevated testosterone levels. This has been a problem since she won the world 800m in 2009, when she was only 18 years old. Now, she might have to compete against men, according to the new announcement from the IAAF.

The announcement, which was made on Thursday creates a different classification for athletes of Difference of Sexual Development (DSD). This requires such atheletes to reduce their blood testosterone levels, and maintain those levels, if they want to compete internationally against women.

If they are unwilling to reduce and maintain their blood testosterone levels, they would be allowed to compete against men.


Caster Semanya


According to an article published by cnn.com,


The new regulations, unanimously agreed by the IAAF, will cover events from 400m to the mile and come into effect from November 1, 2018.

DSD athletes will have to reduce their blood testosterone level to below 5nmol/L for a continuous period of at least six months and must maintain those levels continuously for the rest of their athletic career.

In a statement, IAAF President Sebastian Coe said that the federation had a “responsibility to ensure a level playing field.”

“The revised rules are not about cheating, no athlete with a DSD has cheated, they are about leveling the playing field to ensure fair and meaningful competition in the sport of athletics where success is determined by talent, dedication and hard work rather than other contributing factors,” the Englishman added.

The IAAF said: “There is a broad medical and scientific consensus, supported by peer-reviewed data and evidence from the field, that the high levels of endogenous testosterone circulating in athletes with certain DSDs can significantly enhance their sporting performance.

“These Regulations accordingly permit such athletes to compete in the female classification in the events that currently appear to be most clearly affected only if they meet the Eligibility Conditions defined by these regulations.”
The governing body continued: “Most females (including elite female athletes) have low levels of testosterone circulating naturally in their bodies (0.12 to 1.79 nmol/L in blood); while after puberty the normal male range is much higher (7.7 — 29.4 nmol/L).

“No female would have serum levels of natural testosterone at 5 nmol/L or above unless they have DSD or a tumour. Individuals with DSDs can have very high levels of natural testosterone, extending into and even beyond the normal male range.”

Do you think this decision by the IAAF is fair? Let us know in the comments below



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