Will South African teen sensation Caster Semenya, a middle distance runner whose gender has been questioned by track officials, undergo further testing (and embarrassment) if she wins a medal?
(Photo by Robert Michael/ AFP/Getty Images)
By Mike Tierney, Special to Universal Sports
There would be no more controversial Olympic gold medalist in London than Caster Semenya — through no fault of her own. Semenya is the outstanding 800-meter runner South Africa whose appearance, just as her name, suggests gender ambiguity.
Semenya, 21, is a female with a husky voice and boyish frame. Testing reportedly indicates she has three times more testosterone than the average woman. Since winning at the 2009 World Championships, she has been subjected to harsh public scrutiny but has been allowed to compete against other women.
A new gender testing policy implemented by the international track and field federation could jeopardize her eligibility — or the awarding of a medal to her — at the Games. The screenings will measure testosterone levels in athletes, a standard that some scientists say is flawed in determining one’s sex.
With all of the weight that Semenya will carry on her shoulders, she would deserve a medal of some sort simply by racing to her full capacity — no matter what side of the gender fence for Olympics athletes she ultimately falls on.