T Nation

800 Meter Champ, He or She?



CNN) -- South African athletics officials have rallied behind controversial new running star Caster Semenya, who won the women's world 800 meters title just hours after the sport's governing body asked for the 18-year-old's gender to be verified.

Semenya celebrates her gold, which came just hours after the IAAF called for a gender test on the athlete.

Semenya crushed her rivals by streaking away to secure victory in a time of one minute 55.45 seconds -- the best in the world this year and more than eight seconds quicker than her fastest effort of 2008.

She finished more than two seconds clear of second-placed Kenyan Janeth Jepkosgei, the 2007 champion.

However, the race was run amid controversy following the announcement by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF).
Have your say: What's your opinion on the IAAF's decision?

Semenya's masculine build fueled rumors, but the South Africa team manager said there should be no dispute.

"Even the ID that she has, the passport, says she is a female," Phiwe Mlangeni-Tsholetsane told CNN by phone from Berlin on Thursday. "There was no cheating on our part, or even on the part of the athlete."

She said Semenya was not bothered by the questions over her gender and was simply focusing on improving her times.

"If there are tests being done, we accept that. We can't stop that," Mlangeni-Tsholetsane said. "We have nothing to hide."

Meanwhile, Semenya received her gold medal in the podium ceremony on Thursday, receiving a warm ovation from the crowd in the Berlin Olympic Stadium.

Dressed in the yellow and green track suit of South Africa, Semenya mouthed the words of their national anthem as her country's flag was raised.

Results from the IAAF's planned tests are not expected to be known in the near future.

"The gender verification test is an extremely complex procedure," said IAAF spokesman Nick Davies -- who revealed the question of Semenya's gender was first raised after her astonishing African Junior Championships displays.

"In the case of this athlete, following her breakthrough in the African Junior Championships, the rumors, the gossip were starting to build up," Davies told reporters.

Semenya declined to take part in the scheduled post-race interview, reported South African tabloid Sowetan, and her place was taken by IAAF general secretary Pierre Weiss.

"The investigations will take some days or weeks and I'm not a doctor to give a conclusive answer on her gender. But we know her as a woman," Pierre said.

Athletics South Africa president Leonard Chuene accused South African media of trying to "destroy" Semenya, according to Sowetan -- which described the runner as "our golden girl."

"They have their own agenda and I can tell you that they will not succeed," Chuene said. "This girl has been to African youth championships and other international events, and why was this issue not raised then?

"Why now? Is it because she is not an athlete they were expecting to do well in her maiden appearance in the senior championships?"

Her father Jacob Semenya told the paper before the race that the accusations were unfounded.

"She is my little girl. I raised her and I have never doubted her gender. She is a woman and I can repeat that a million times," he said on Wednesday.


She/he's got some DSLs, thats fo sho


huh... interesting.. another CNN link about stuff

There have been precedents in such cases, the most famous being that of Polish athletics great Stella Walsh, who won Olympic gold in the 100 yards at the 1932 Olympics and silver in the same event in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

However, after she was shot dead during an armed robbery in 1980, the subsequent autopsy revealed she possessed male genitalia, although she also had female characteristics as well.



Learn to search:


why? thanks for the link, goes along well with the thread.


I had heard of that tennis player who became a woman, but not these folks.


Shouldn't they handle this stuff in a more discreet way? Whatever the outcome of the gender testing it should be handled a with a bit more discretion.




In the timeless words of Austin Powers, That's a man baby!!!



I am a bit late to the party, thanks to legendaryblaze for posting the link to the first thread but this was the first I heard of it.

I kinda feel bad for the kid.


Wow...Tough call:




Really sounds like a man.


When I opened the thread and saw that first pic I instantly assumed male...chick looks like a dude big time.


How is the gender verification test a complex procedure?


Okay that is just ridiculous. "I have never doubted her gender"!? That's a fucking weird thing to say as a father.

I think it's just one hell of a male female. Her voice hints to insane steroid use.


They were going to examine genitals, hormones, and organ structure is what I heard.


They can't just do a blood sample and check XX or XY?


I read somewhere an official stating that it's quite complex what they would do. What if she's XXY and has internal testicles or something. They're getting psychologists in as well, and I'm pretty sure theres a rare mutation on an X locus for an XX person to end up 'male'; it's all very complicated.

But fundamentally, I expect that they'll know relatively quickly, but will take a while to decide whether to strip her of her results, etc. ie what if she was a 'man' but never knew - it wouldn't really be 'her fault', and so on .

So my suspicion is that they are just taking their time to make a decision about what to do with it, not just release results then as they ponder have a media frenzy if it's true that she's got male genotypic characteristics.



I don't care what the tests say.


Nice pun, even if unintentional.