Se­menya hits out at dis­crim­i­na­tion

South African storms to gold medal in 800m Con­tro­versy con­tin­ues over testos­terone lev­els

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - NEWS - By Ben Bloom in Rio de Janeiro

Caster Se­menya urged ev­ery­one to stop fo­cus­ing on “how peo­ple look” af­ter over­com­ing con­tro­versy to win Olympic 800 me­tres gold on Satur­day night.

Se­menya, who has be­come a re­luc­tant poster girl for hy­per­an­dro­genism, stormed to vic­tory in a per­sonal-best time of 1 min 55.28 sec ahead of Bu­rundi’s Francine Niyon­s­aba and Mar­garet Wam­bui, of Kenya. All three de­clined to con­firm whether they had been af­fected by the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport’s de­ci­sion to over­turn reg­u­la­tions forc­ing fe­male ath­letes with ex­ces­sive testos­terone lev­els to take hor­mone-sup­press­ing med­i­ca­tion.

Se­menya, 25, has been un­beat­able since the rul­ing came into ef­fect last year, but she urged peo­ple to look be­yond phys­i­cal ap­pear­ances and fo­cus on abil­ity alone.

“It is not about dis­crim­i­nat­ing against peo­ple,” she said. “It is not about look­ing at how peo­ple look, how they speak, how they run. It is not about be­ing mus­cu­lar.

“When you walk out of your apart­ment you think about per­form­ing, not what your op­po­nent looks like. You just want to do bet­ter. We are here to fo­cus on per­for­mance, not the IAAF [In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions] or spec­u­la­tion.”

Se­menya’s fu­ture re­mains un­clear with the IAAF due to re­turn to the CAS be­fore the start of next sea­son with ev­i­dence it hopes will prove ex­ces­sive testos­terone equates to im­proved per­for­mance. If suc­cess­ful, that could re­sult in the hor­mone-low­er­ing reg­u­la­tions be­ing put back in place.

Speak­ing im­me­di­ately af­ter the race Lynsey Sharp, who set a per­sonal best time of 1 min 57.69 sec to fin­ish sixth, de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion as “dif­fi­cult”.

“I have tried to avoid the is­sue all year,” she said. “You can see how emo­tional it all was. We know how each other feels. It is out of our con­trol and how much we rely on peo­ple at the top sort­ing it out. The pub­lic can see how dif­fi­cult it is with the change of rule but all we can do is give it our best.

“I was com­ing down the home straight, we were not far away and you can see how close it is. That is en­cour­ag­ing. We will work hard and aim to come back even stronger.”

Fel­low Bri­tish ath­lete Nigel Levine was less sub­tle in his crit­i­cism of the sit­u­a­tion when he com­mented on sug­ges­tions that three women in the Olympic 800m fi­nal have ex­cess testos­terone due to hy­per­an­dro­genism.

“Happy for Lynsey Sharp for com­ing third in the women 800m,” he wrote on Twit­ter, be­fore later delet­ing his post.

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