Thursday, Oct 30th

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Caster Semenya Results In - Hermaphrodite

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The results of South African athlete Caster Semenya has been leaked to the press.

According to reports in the Australian media, the medical tests have established that she has no womb or ovaries and that she also has internal testes – the male sexual organs responsible for producing testosterone.

Earlier analysis had revealed that Semenya's testosterone levels were three times the normal level for a woman.

Sigh. 

This has turned into a media circus, with a young woman at the center.  Caster has external female genitalia. Her rural family therefore raised her as a girl. So naturally she entered track and field in the women's division.  Caster did not cheat.  However, that is not the end of the story.  Caster does have an clear edge over other women in her sport.  She's is naturally pumped full of more testosterone than other female athletes. Female athletes who pump themselves with testosterone artifically are banned for doping - cheating.  So where does that leave Caster? She has naturally testosterone at levels that would get other female athletes banned as cheats.  What is fair here?

What isn't fair here is how Caster is being treated.  Her coaches failed her, and the governing body of her sport have failed her.  This whole case was handled poorly. Her coaches should have quietly verified Caster's sex before they entered her in any international races.  Her coaches knew she wasn't doping but still had a very masculine appearance. Why didn't they gently approach Caster and have her checked out?  As professional coaches they should have foreseen that her appearance plus her performance would raise eyebrows...anyone with two eyes would have questions about Caster...questions that Caster herself admits she has been dogged with her entire life.  So why put her in this position? 

The governing body of the sport has also failed.  They have allowed this to become a political and media frenzy instead of what it is, a matter of sport and fairness.  There is no way that the world should know the results of such a personal nature before the athlete.

But what now?  Strip her of her medal?  I don't know.  Caster didn't cheat.  She ran under good faith with what nature provided her.  But did she have a clear advantage over the other women on the track with her?  Yes.  The other women were running against someone who had three times the normal amount of performance enhancing testosterone percolating in their body.  Not fair to them.  Should she be required to run with men when she has been raised all her life as a woman?  No. That's not fair to Caster, who for all she knew was a very athletic woman.  This will probably end with Caster not participating in the sport she loves.  But that's not her fault, nor is it the fault of the other female athletes who complained, the fault lies with Caster's coaches who really should have known better.

It is a shame that such an intimate personal health issue has been splashed all about the media when it clearly could have been avoided. 

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