That’s no lady, that’s South Africa’s new athletics sensation
WE ARE in the middle of the greatest sporting scandal in South African history.
It’s greater than Zola Budd tripping Mary Dekker “on purpose”, uglier than Johan le Roux biting Sean Fitzpatrick’s ear, more sensational than Hansie Cronje taking money from Indian bookies.
Yes, Caster Semenya, our 800m phenomenon, is a man.
That’s what certain sections of the overseas media would have us believe, at any rate. And if that wasn’t enough, just about every one of the fancied athletes Semenya left in her dust in Berlin on Wednesday night think so too – and they’re not mincing their words.
It’s taken sour grapes to a brandnew level.
I grant you, it’ll be a cold day in hell before Semenya makes a run for Miss SA, but if looks alone were grounds for the gender-testing she is about to undergo, then Susan Boyle would have to be a contender.
The Scottish songbird who took the world by storm after appearing on the reality show Britain’s Got Talent has to be one of the most mannish-looking women yet to hit the headlines.
And what about some of the UK’s senior politicians or political leaders in the US and Germany?
We’ve all got masculine-looking women in our societies, just like we’ve got fey-looking men. The difference is no one suggests they should go for gender-testing, even though I daresay many have more balls than their male counterparts.
What about the argument that Semenya secretly underwent some kind of sinister gender metamorphosis, much like the East Germans did in the dark days of the Cold War?
You’ve seen the famous pictures of the behemoth East German shot putters, all of whom would have made Bakkies Botha look positively sylph-like.
The problem is, it’s wishful thinking. There have been many times I have prayed that we could have Stasi-like centres for sporting excellence – the ones that identify the talented, swoop down and remove them at an early age to specialised academies where they are fed the best food and steroids and trained for hours until they are turned out as teenage superheroes.
We might call Schalk Burger the Incredible Hulk but in truth, though, the closest we came was Kamp Staaldraad, which was an outand-out disaster; all we managed to achieve was Corné Krige leading a team of clueless bullies to their nadir at Twickenham.
As for surgical procedures, come on; Semenya is an ordinary South African who uses state medical care.
Are these hospitals which struggle to roll out ARVs to people living with HIV and Aids suddenly going to have a special gender unit turning out sporting prodigies?
The best one, though, is this insistence on gender-testing.
Ologists of all kinds – psycho, sexual and everything in between – will put this poor woman through weeks of testing to make sure she’s actually female.
Back in the stone age when I was at school, there was this silly little joke: How do you tell the sex of a chromosome, was the question. Pull down its jeans (genes), was the answer, to glee and merriment.
Part of me wonders whether the chromosomes didn’t get lost in the jeans this week.
At a time when we should be celebrating this young woman’s incredible athleticism, the whole thing has become sullied in the most incredibly ugly spat over whether she’s feminine or not.
Why didn’t female athletics officials just take her into the changing room and check for themselves?
It’s not that difficult. Surely the answer is either one or the other, or am I missing something?
Perhaps I am. After all, it was an Australian journalist who apparently blew the whistle in the first place.
In terms of his logic, we should call for the Wallabies to be gendertested the next time they come over. They did play like a bunch of girls the last time they were here.