No end to gen­der ques­tions for Se­menya

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

CAPE TOWN — Caster Se­menya is mak­ing a bold bid for dou­ble gold in the women’s 800m and 1500m but her only guar­an­tee at the World Ath­let­ics Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don is fur­ther scru­tiny of the gen­der con­tro­versy that has dogged her ca­reer.

The pow­er­ful 26-year-old South African is the run­away fa­vorite in the 800, where she seeks a third world ti­tle to add to her Olympic gold from Rio de Janeiro last year, and is tak­ing on the 1500 for the first time at a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional meet­ing.

All of this, though, will come un­der a cloud of con­tro­versy at the Aug 4-13 cham­pi­onships as many feel high testos­terone lev­els give her an un­fair ad­van­tage.

An­tic­i­pat­ing a storm, Se­menya this month granted a rare in­ter­view to South Africa’s Su­per­Sport TV chan­nel, ex­press­ing her frus­tra­tion at con­tin­u­ally hav­ing her gen­der ques­tioned.

“I don’t un­der­stand when you say I have an ad­van­tage be­cause I am a woman,” she said. “When I pee, I pee like a woman. I don’t un­der­stand when you say I’m a man or I have a deep voice. I know I’m a fe­male so there’s no ques­tion for me.

“I have to find a way to de­flect (the ques­tion­ing of her gen­der), so in­stead of al­low­ing it to all be neg­a­tive, I turn it into a pos­i­tive. My fam­ily’s

Caster Se­menya,

Rus­sia dop­ing ban likely to re­main sup­port sys­tem is fan­tas­tic.”

After Se­menya won the 2009 world ti­tle as a 19-yearold, tests re­port­edly re­vealed that she was hy­per­an­droge­nous, re­sult­ing in her body pro­duc­ing an ab­nor­mally high amount of testos­terone, which makes her more pow­er­ful than her ri­vals.

An In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions (IAAF) rule lim­it­ing the amount of nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring func­tional testos­terone for fe­male ath­letes ap­peared to have nar­rowed Se­menya’s prospects, but the IAAF’s hy­per­an­dro­genism reg­u­la­tions were sus­pended for two years in 2015 by the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport, al­low­ing Se­menya to make a come­back.

Her time of 1min, 55.27sec at the Di­a­mond League meet in Monaco this month was the fastest in a women’s 800 in al­most a decade, and there will be an ex­pec­ta­tion that she could take down the longest­stand­ing ath­let­ics world record set by Cze­choslo­vakia’s Jarmila Kra­tochvilova in 1983 (1:53.28).

Se­menya has made a late de­ci­sion to add a tilt at 1500 glory to her Lon­don pro­gram, set­ting up an in­trigu­ing clash with world-record holder Gen­zebe Dibaba from Ethiopia.

Se­menya has run the dis­tance only once this year, win­ning the South African stu­dent cham­pi­onship in April, but she is the reign­ing African cham­pion from Dur­ban last year where she set a per­sonal best of 4:01.19.

The IAAF is not ready to lift Rus­sia’s sus­pen­sion from track and field com­pe­ti­tions as the coun­try has “failed to fully ac­cept the find­ings” of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into its state-spon­sored dop­ing scheme.

At a Lon­don meet­ing of mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tions of track and field’s global sanc­tion­ing body on Thurs­day, they will be asked to main­tain the ban on Rus­sia that was im­posed in 2015 after World Anti-Dop­ing Agency in­ves­ti­ga­tor Richard McLaren ex­posed how failed drug tests were cov­ered up.

Rune An­der­sen, the IAAF’s Rus­sia task­force chair­man, wants as­sur­ances that the McLaren re­port’s find­ings “have been prop­erly ac­knowl­edged and ad­dressed, and there will be no rep­e­ti­tion”.

The Rus­sian ath­let­ics fed­er­a­tion “has not yet demon­strated to the sat­is­fac­tion of the task­force that it has estab­lished a strong anti-dop­ing cul­ture within its sport, or that it has cre­ated an open en­vi­ron­ment that en­cour­ages whistle­blow­ing,” An­der­sen said in a re­port to the IAAF Coun­cil on Mon­day. I don’t un­der­stand when you say I have an ad­van­tage be­cause I am a woman.”

whose mas­cu­line physique has caused con­tro­versy in the ath­let­ics world

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