Should there be a medical test to prove the sex of an olympic athlete, or should the athlete be able to decide where they are more comfortable competing? 

South Africa’s “female” athlete, Caster Semenya will compete against the world’s top female athletes as the overwhelming favorite for the gold tonight at 8 pm.

Semenya is apparently under armed guard protection after sending out this taunting threat to anyone who questions his/her gender:

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UPDATE– International reports suggest that security has been beefed up for the athlete ahead of her race. Several news outlets are reporting that Olympic officials are concerned about Semenya’s welfare and are fearful of unrest from the fans of rival runners spilling over into physical violence.

The reports state that journalists have been barred from approaching the athlete and she won’t be allowed to conduct any media interviews. She will also be accompanied by Rio Olympics security staff at all times.

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The International Olympic Committee and Rio organisers have apparently refused to talk about the runner.

Last night, the Department of Sport and Recreation would not be drawn into speculation that Semenya had been put under armed guard.

There is, in reality, only a silver medal up for grabs in the women’s 800m on Saturday.

It is likely that on the night of Saturday, Aug. 20, in the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, a 25-year-old South African woman named Caster Semenya will win a gold medal. Her victory will come in the 800 meters, a race in which her times have been approaching a decades-old world record thought by many in the sport to be unapproachable. Her performance will be stunning: She is 5’10” and weighs 161 pounds, with muscular arms, broad shoulders and narrow hips. She has a severe jawline, hard and strong, and a competitor’s unflinching eyes. In a 2009 article, Ariel Levy of The New Yorker described Semenya as “breathtakingly butch.”

This is not Semenya’s first appearance on the global stage; she has been a world-class runner for eight years and won a silver medal in the 800 in London. But now she is dominant, and the alleged—but unverified—source of that dominance has made her one of the most significant and potentially transformative athletes in Olympic history. Her races in Rio will trigger an emotional debate on gender and sports, one that is far more challenging than the comparatively simple issue of doping.

“She looks the way she looks, and then she runs away from the field,” says Joanna Harper, a medical physicist in Portland and the first transgender woman to consult with the International Olympic Committee on gender and sports. “And then, yeah, all hell breaks loose.” –SI

Semenya has the condition hyperandrogenism, which naturally increases levels of testosterone. It is argued by some this gives her an unfair advantage over her rivals, who have lower levels and therefore have less musculature and strength.

An IAAF ruling that capped tester one levels for female athletes — and saw Semenya’s performances dip — was overruled by CAS last year and her times have returned to unbeatable.

The issue is hotly debated, with some saying Semenya’s right to compete is paramount and others saying her competitors’ right to a fair playing field is equally as important.

Semenya is focused purely on running, and everyone else is focused on whether she will break the world record of 1:53.28 in the final. – Daily Telegraph

Watch Caster Semenya speak to a reporter here:

In the 2009, tests conducted during the world athletics championships, where Semenya’s gender became the subject of heated debate following her victory in the 800m, revealed evidence she is a hermaphrodite, someone with both male and female sexual characteristics.

Semenya, 18, has three times the amount of testosterone that a “normal” female would have. According to a source closely involved with the Semenya examinations IAAF testing, which included various scans, has revealed she has internal testes – the male sexual organs which produce testosterone.

Only the certainty of an even more savage backlash from South Africa has made the IAAF hesitant about slapping a ban on Semenya and revoking her gold medal.

South Africa embraced Semenya after the storm of controversy from Berlin, declaring her “our girl”. From the day news broke on August 19 that the IAAF had initiated gender verification tests on Semenya, various factions within South African society and politics have attacked the Monte Carlo based IAAF.

The African National Congress MP and National Assembly sports committee chairman Butana Komphela has already lodged a complaint with the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights, accusing the IAAF of racism and sexism.

“There’s all sorts of scans you do. This is why it’s complicated. In the past you used to do a gynaecological exam, blood test, chromosome test, whatever. That’s why they (the findings) were challenged, because it’s not quite so simple.

“So what they do now is they do everything, and then they can say look, not only has she got this, she’s got that and the other. The problem for us is to avoid it being an issue now which is very personal: of the organs being a hermaphrodite, of not being a ‘real’ woman. It’s very dramatic.” –Daily Telegraph


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