Sports Outside the Beltway

Gender test to be conducted on South African runner

She won the 800 meters in Berlin by a large margin. From ESPN-

South Africa’s track and field federation has been asked to conduct a gender test on an 800-meter runner amid concerns she does not meet the requirements to compete as a woman.

Caster Semenya, 18, won the 800 meters at the world championships with a stunningly dominating run.

Semenya took the lead halfway through the race Wednesday and won in a world-leading 1 minute, 55.45 seconds, beating defending champion Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya by a massive 2.45 seconds. Jennifer Meadows of Britain took bronze.

The world track and field federation requested the gender test about three weeks ago, after Semenya burst onto the scene by improving her personal bests in the 800 and 1,500 by huge margins.

IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said the “extremely complex, difficult” test has been started but that the results were not expected for weeks.

Wouldn’t determining someone’s gender be as simple as checking what they have below the waist? No it is more complex.

The verification requires a physical medical evaluation, and includes reports from a gynecologist, endocrinologist, psychologist, an internal medicine specialist and an expert on gender.

“So we’re talking about reports that are very long, very time consuming,” Davies said.

It is actually quite complex, as are the possible reasons for people to be confused about Semenya’s correct gender.

Proving one’s gender isn’t always so easy. Aside from the obvious physical signs, chromosomes usually determine whether a person is male or female. Males are born with XY chromosomes while females have two X chromosomes.

A person can be born intersexed or have Turner Syndrome.

Maybe I’m naive, but I think the testing will show Semenya is a woman. The days where East German athletes made you wonder if they had a sex change are like some ago dream.

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I feel bad for her because she probably has been mocked all her life. At least she can be finally do something that she can be proud of. Besides, why are they questioning her gender now after she won. If there was a problem, they should have checked her out discreetly before the race instead of embarrassing her after she won.

Posted by Chris | August 21, 2009 | 12:59 pm | Permalink

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