Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

South African fury at sex test for track star

August 20, 2009

Eighteen-year-old Mokgadi ‘Caster’ Semenya is being celebrated as a national hero in South Africa after winning the 800 metres at the World Athletics Championships, but the decision by international athletics officials to order a gender verification test has stirred deep anger – and brought accusations of prejudice against the country and the continent.

Many in South Africa feel a victory by their talented young athlete is being tarnished by bad losers and a world all too  ready to mock. Sensitivities to prejudice are never far from the surface in the country where apartheid white minority rule ended just 15 years ago.

South Africans point out that headlines such as “Is she really a HE?”, in Britain’s Daily Mail, and the question of gender verification only surfaced when Semenya started to do much better than her peers.

“It shows that these imperialist countries can’t afford to accept the talent that Africa as a continent has,” the South African Football Players Union said in a message of congratulation to Semenya.

Politicians stepped in too.

“The ANC YL condemns with contempt those who are questioning her gender,” said the ever vocal Youth League of the Ruling African National Congress.

Some even drew parallels between Semenya and an unpleasant episode from the colonial era – Sarah Baartman, a South African woman, was taken from her rural homeland in 1810 and paraded to the world as a freak because of her unusual physical features. Her remains were finally brought back to South Africa in 2002 and laid to rest.

Whatever the results of the officials’ tests on Semenya – and the scientific procedures could take months – most South Africans are convinced that she is not a cheat but a great athlete who will return to a huge welcome.


I think they are taking it too far. Semenya enter the race as a girl, and she won. All of this is just wrong to be treating her like she have done something bad. Only because she is black. She is young maybe lifting weights and working out.Would all this rumor been said if she didn’t won the race. If it was a white person who they say the same about her.. And if she is test and have male gens. All of us was made by God and that how she was created,to be a girl. It is very embarrassing to see a young girl going threw this After she try her best and make her Country Proud.


If her gender is questioned because of her excellence….we should then question whether Usain Bolt is human…he did after all do what was not humanly possible according to the “experts”. Give the girl a break and allow her a moment to shine

Posted by Grace | Report as abusive

Usain is all human just like Semenya is all woman.she work hard and it paid off,she won and her country is proud of her,We Jamaicans understand all too well how the outside world works ,if they are not in control they will find everything bad to say about it.CONGRATS SOUTH AFRICA AND ALL AFRICAN NATIONS whether by birth or heritage.


She does look very masculine. If I were on a date with her, I’d want to know her sex before taking her home.


Hola!Growing up in the Townships there were many young women with unusual feminine looks, and unparalleled physical feats that even and young men, we were not up to par to challenge them. That did not make them any less girl/lady. This is a farce and the young lady is a Gold medal winner, so let that be.What’s up Germany? remember hitler and 1940s Olympic, and Jesse Owens outran all the Nazi cats? Is it not time to rest your racism, Germany, and try and pick up the pieces of the past which premised its relations with Africans in a negative way? Titima kapa matha dimamza, rea didietsa(Ali-li-li-li-li-li-li…. Tsamaya Thope ya heso?

Posted by ixwa | Report as abusive

Leave this girl alone. Serena and Venues have the same body features like men, she is not pretty like Maron Jones but she is a woman like Maria Mutola.


The western states are only jealous of her achievement, South Africa and the whole of Africa should should unite and fight against this prejudice remarks that nothing good comes out of Africa

Posted by oluchukwu okontah | Report as abusive

the weird thing is: where was she before?


People first of, calm down. The reason they are jumping on this is because of an Indian runner in 2006 that possed as a woman. You would all have been saying the same thing. You are only doing this because “she” is Indian etc etc. Fact is there is a legitimate reason to question this.Should you have the same reaction to drug testing? Do you think Bolt has not been hounded on doping accusations?If she has nothing to hide she will be vindicated – given quotes from her it seems like she is far less worried and far less offended than any of you.Not every issue revolves around race and not everything goes back to the nazis.

Posted by Sebastian | Report as abusive

If they suspect Semenya to be male, why not expose Kenya’s Conjestina Achieng’, that great boxer in the same examination, too?lets be proud of black skin’s achievement.

Posted by Kapchanga Marcus | Report as abusive

If Semenya is to be tested, I guess it’s because there’s a certain benefit to be treated as a female in the world of atheletics. Then every female athlete should be examined in order to enjoy this benefit, of course. They all perform too good anyway. It is rather difficult to believe these officials are far from discriminatory when they don’t mean to test all but only one.

Posted by Caspar | Report as abusive

Let them do the tests, and if it comes back good, then she will shine. If not, if she is a he, then fairness will reign. If she has a problem with taking the test then she must have something to hide, therefore the tests should be conducted even more vigorously. About western states having some sort of jealousy is funny. Why would western countries be jealous of a win by another country, whoever raced had a fair shot at winning just as she did. Its prejudice to think that way, but that just shows how jealous the rest of the world is of western countries. Whenever we question something the rest of the world cries foul….ridiculously! I as a resident of US would celebrate her win and congratulate her IF she won squarely and have no jealousy whatsoever. So that is definitely not the point here. The point is we all have to play by the rules.

Posted by Eric Heugel | Report as abusive

I am confused why is this a story…In the time it takes to write this article can’t they figure out if she or he is a he or she? Why even write an article about it? The answer to this question if we wanted the answer should not take days and days to get. The truth is we as people find it entertaining to see how someone in the spot light handles being called a man when their a woman. It’s funny point blank. I was working with a customer the other day and I said “can I help you sir” And she said no. It was a woman that looked much like a man. This athlete to me looks like a woman but yeah I can see how some people are confused some cultures might not be used to seeing such athletic women. Women are different all over the world…It’s genetics.

Posted by David G | Report as abusive

Her talent is a gift from God. Let her be.

Posted by Gillian | Report as abusive

Again, not every person is drug tested; yes there are random tests, but when their performance is called into question they are always asked to submit to tests…Why the uproar now? The problem is those that our crying out “Racist!” are the true racists because you don’t seem to care at all about the state of the art labs that were built for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing that tested many women of all races.Again, seriously get over yourselves.Kapchanga – imagine if someone said lets be proud of white skin’s achievement. Try to be a little less hypocritical… You are the ones that see the world as black and white.

Posted by Sebastian | Report as abusive

my question is why she/he should not be the subject of a gender verification test, if sports officials at the world athletics championships suspects something is wrong or missing with mokgadi ‘caster’ semenya? because she/he is an african, is irrelevant to the issue at hand. she/he should be judged only as an athlete to determine whatever gender this athlete is. it also matters nothing if such a person is now a national hero, it matters only that whatever the truth is of the athlete’s gender that it is established according to the international rules already laid down before the championships began. the test should be welcomed to prove beyond any doubt that the athlete in question has abided by gender qualification, either female or male.if such an athlete has not followed the rules, then whatever win or medal or prize she/he was awarded, should be promptly withdraw without any further ado.truly, uncle monty. london, uk. :: eve of ramadan, 2oo9.


It seems that the only “fair” solution is to remove the sex-based segregation of athletes into male/female categories. This is a logical next-step in our progression toward an “everyone is equal” world. Additionally, we should remove age categories or handicap considerations of any kind. Athletes who have artificial limbs or other augments would then be free to compete without prejudice. Testing for performance enhancing drugs should be stopped. The word of the athlete should be all the confirmation that we require. Besides, athletes have never been known to cheat the system. Why should it matter anyway? Victory is obviously much more important than honor on the playing field. Perhaps from now on, all should compete in the same events, on the same field, regardless of gender, age, or enhancements. May the best “person” win.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

I think they suppose to test or question their gender when entering a competition, to know where to run – for men or women; not after they win.

Posted by me | Report as abusive

This is one mystery that we can easily clear up with a little science. In this enlightened age gender verification should be within our grasp.And if her gender is verified, then I hope all her critics hold their head in absolute shame!


I agree that it’s a disgrace that this talented young women is being put through what must be a humiliating experience. Those who pushed for the tests should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by morty62 | Report as abusive

honestly when i watched the heats I was like wow, she looks like a dude, but in all reality, why would a man pose as a woman to win a medal, whats the point?

Posted by Jeff M | Report as abusive

People Calm Down it is just a test… it is not about race!!

Posted by edy | Report as abusive

I feel bad for her, she can’t help her condition and she probably has been mocked all her life. At least she can be finally do something that she can be proud of.


Thank you Edy – finally a reasonable person!Marky – this is not about her having critics or people wishing her harm. This is about a question being asked with a very easy way of answering it. Just as questions are asked about other top athletes white/black/man/woman doesn’t matter. Just look at the tour de France – how many “white males” have been accused and caugt of doping.. hmm?? I don’t see you jumping to their defense crying foul!Dave – Despite all the politically correct garbage that is shoved down your throat we are not all equal physically nor mentally. We are equal in our rights and freedoms – that is the idea. Just look at world records for men and women – you may notice that olympic gold medalists that are men have faster times than women in ALL sports, have lifted heavier weights, have jumped higher etc… etc… The fact of the matter is that men are biologically different than women starting with our skeleton. That is why women and men are devided up. It allows people to compete against their peers that were born with the same physical potential.Just like someone cannot help that they were predisposed to be a lighter build rather than a heavier build – man or woman.

Posted by Sebastian | Report as abusive

Leave the poor girl alone.


Umm, correct me if I am wrong, but why would a gender test take so long. I have seen both genders naked an their is a very obvious difference. If she is transgendered male to female, legally she would be considered a female regardles of her original gender.

Posted by sdspidy | Report as abusive

just do the crocodile dundee test and grab… should take 5 seconds…

Posted by test | Report as abusive

There are some things that are not being considered.First, what would it be like to grow up as female your whole life and then have some test forced upon you to determine your sex (male or female; gender is masculine or feminine)? Sure, that’s a bit insulting, but consider this: what if the tests contradicts her life?It’s one thing for such information to be obtained personally and shared amongst friends and family, but how about the whole world? And what if the results of the test is snagged and revealed to the world before she gets the information? That happens quite often because of the distortion between news and gossip. How would you feel? And no, being up on the world stage does not excuse journalists’ lack of ethics.Something else to consider is what if she is a hermaphrodite? Will they respect her life as a female, being treated as female and believing it herself? Or will they insist she has no place as a hermaphrodite and can’t ever participate because there isn’t a segregated category for her “kind”?Come on guys, try thinking this through completely instead of just thinking of the prize or honor. What about the person’s life? Goodness gracious, you all are so uncaring.

Posted by Thom | Report as abusive

Wow really people? How is this a racist accusation? It’s not like this is some difficult sort of test, that they could intentionally sabatoge to claim she is in fact male, therefore it only makes you look idiotic to claim it as racist.That said, as one other person mentioned they should likely perform this type of screening to ALL athletes PRIOR to the race. This way it avoids embarassing / singling out one particular person. In other words, it is more respectful of the differences that we all have and doesn’t make one person feel like they’re being targeted. Again, this has nothing to do with racism, just common courtesy.

Posted by Justin | Report as abusive

I agree. When there is a doubt. You ought to accept the test requirements to prove you are innocent. There were many tests on the man or woman athelets in World or Olympic championships. Men and women are not born phycially equal; therefore, it is not fair for a woman to compete with a man in the sports. If she was a man changed to a woman, she should not be qualified in a woman’s sport, because in general men were born with better phycial ability than women.

Posted by fairlady | Report as abusive

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, unless the quacker is transplanted, it’s a duck. If the quacker is a transplant go back to the “looks” and “walks” statements.

Posted by Edwin | Report as abusive

Jeff M – Havent you seen the movie “The Ringer”.

Posted by Riley | Report as abusive

Good question sdspidy. The test DOES NOT involve the individual barring their genitals to a group of doctors for proof.The test is done by taking a blood sample from the athlete and determining the sex of that person in a lab.This is done to protect the dignity of the person undergoing the test.Not too bad eh?

Posted by Sebastian | Report as abusive

Well I feel bad for her but the test should be easy and clear her for the future. This sort of thing has happened before in 1936.

Posted by Raul | Report as abusive

I don’t understand why if this is such a huge issue, why all contestants are required to have a full physical evaluation (including gender testing) BEFORE the comepetitions? Seems to me like just a scandal and the poor girl is getting raked through the coals of societies’ obsession with tearing accomplished people apart. Go Mokgad! No matter the skepticism keep racing and doing your country proud!!

Posted by Meow | Report as abusive

God bless South Africa the day they are able to do a sex change so brilliantly – especially since this young girl grew up in a very, very poor neighborhood. She is still living there. No power, no running water, one single room for the whole family. LOLOL Jealousy – She grew up in an area where she had to run 10 miles every morning to go to school, then would run the road back after school. In the cold winters, she would run bare foot with a skimpy outfit. SOOOO you see, even the poor can go places. Jealousy!!!! Shame on you!!!

Posted by Hendrina Garcia | Report as abusive

Physical characteristics alone cannot definitively distinguish him/her, but a quick karyotype could tell without a doubt. A single pair of X chromosomes is all she needs.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

If women deserve a special category so they can compete against their peers, then why not have an Black category and an OTHER category too. It is well documented that Negroes have superior speed and jumping ability. This is a no brainer, so don’t snap back with your politically correct crap. Just look at the sprints and professional sports teams. Are there exceptions yes. But is it fair to the Japanese dude to have to sprint against Mr. Bolt? Think about it.


Please, the test has absolutely nothing to do with race. It has to do with this woman’s uncanny resemblance to a man. I think there’s something definitely fishy about her (or him). You see, if I was in her shoes, and I was completely innocent, I’d pass the test first, and only then shove the results in the face of my critics and publicly denounce them. Instead the South Africans are creating a big uproar before the test results are in, which means that they are trying to avoid the test from taking place.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

When doubts are raised, it is in the best interest of the doubted to have the doubt cleared. If she is not a he then she would have been made a grater hero. If she is a he, then what better way can infidel be treated. Racism is a sward, not a shield!

Posted by Teddy | Report as abusive

It may suck to have this kind of issue come up, but what is the alternative?As someone living in a country with a constitutional presumption of innocence, I find it aggravating and unplesant that atheletes are presumed guilty of using steroids, and therefore required to prove their innocence with blood tests for drugs.This is no different. It’s an unfortunate but necessary evil.As for the person saying “What if she is a hemaphrodite, or transgender and legally a woman…” Well, again, that sucks. But it is a fact of life that you have to be tall to succeed in basketball. You have to be small and light to succeed as a jockey. And you have to be female (physically) to get credit for winning in women’s track events.

Posted by HumanJHawkins | Report as abusive

Thank you Thom!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Carol Ruttenberg | Report as abusive

“Intersex” is the more “PC” term, I think, for hermaphrodite, and about 1 in 20,000 are born with some variation of this – perhaps all athletes should be tested in case they have an extra X or Y chromosome? And I’m not suggesting that she is intersexed. I have a close friend who has always been mistaken for a boy, and she is totally 100% girl (yes, tested) and I find it offensive that anyone would suggest she needs to prove it, whether in athletics or any other arena.

Posted by Carol | Report as abusive

People should look at the athletes competing and honestly assess whether she is the only one that looks like a female. Somebody look for margaret simpson and tell me who looks more like a guy. I will bet that there are several others in berlin that look more masculine than caster. Is it because she is doing so well. I dont want to call this racism but it certainly is stupidity on the part of the IAAF in the way it chose to handle this issue. Its such an inhumane treatment to be metted out to such a beautiful prospects.

Posted by Mxi | Report as abusive

All it would take is if she is a woman go into a room and drop her pants in front of a woman.If he’s a man drop his pants in front of a man.Case closed!


It is shameful that in the 21st century people can doubt a girls gender in winning a race. Sterotypes is the only explanation why such a gender test should be inflicted on this innocent superb performer from South Africa.The racist world is accustomed to prefix and suffix “Africa” with the adjective “POOR”. They feel comfortable when Africa fails in everything. Poor Africa poor in everything. It is poor,full of AIDS, full of orphans, full of malaria, the people are dirty, they are illiterate etc. Just read any article about Africa and the world poor is either the prefix or the suffix or both. When will racism be abrogated by the United Nations.Almost all begging institutions such as UNICEF, UNAIDS, World Vision etc and the neo-liberal institutions called euphemistically “NGOs” will use the most ugly pictures of children and elderly people for their begging purposes (fund-raising!). Some of these pictures are recycled from the 18th century but when used for Africa it will always be true.How can this be fund raising for humanity when they are used with such a dehumanizing purpose! Let us hope the UN will abolish this.This girl is a victim of the same racist dehumanizing propaganda. If she were British the Feminist Movement would be there with lawyers to defend her but she is African…and in fact black…too bad for her! If this girl were any other race the world would shout but now it doesn’t. The Jamaican case is still fresh in our memories when the same tactic was used. When will the world be just!

Posted by Denyutali Mgaya | Report as abusive

Two notably reasonable comments were:Biological sex is objectively & scientifically identified by blood test — as opposed to sexual identification, which is subjective. Therefore, there can be no “racial prejudice” by the manner of the test, which is medical and not sociological. Not too many years ago, in Soviet times, it was not unheard of for the Russian ladies Olympic Weight-Lifting team to include one or more males — or perhaps a reader will recollect exactly what situation[(s) along those lines existed during the 1980s. Precisely because the exam is objectively accurate, racial prejudice is excluded; yet, there should be no reason why South African physicians (including the Bantu and other races) could not participate in the process; for co-participation in the investigation was one legitimate part of the Austrian untimatum regarding Arch-Duke Ferdinand's assassination, Serbia's refusal of which led to arguably legitimate Austrian military action, seconded by her ally Germany, which the French & English refused in their arrogance to tolerate, thus starting World War I ('The Great War'). Public information of readiness for South African co-participation may have been announced simultaneous with the decision to test, and promulgated with it. Would the latter have quenched unreasonable racial antagonism? Recall that investigators' analysis of the cockpit voices of an Egypt Air jet downed in New York, that the downing might have been deliberate, consciously directed by a deranged pilot (which subsequently proved true): was answered with a flood of denunciations by the Egyptian public, which were silenced by announcement of willingness by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to permit Egyptian participation in that investigation, which then transpired, silencing the Egyptian public's arguably unreasonable demonstrations of hostility. Therefore, verification of the sexual biology of the contestant is ipso facto objective, regardless of any subjectivity in the suspicians which provoked it; the person involved has a personal life, which already has been challenged by subjective appearance of masculine traits and un-normal, if not abnormal, performance relative to the sexes historically & medically: yet, so have the other contestants who were defeated by the person under medical investigation.Intelligence and emotional stability -- or the lack of these -- is also objectively measurable, in so far as the individual is examined regarding performance at requisite tasks for a member of our Race, which is what I.Q. measures and can be adjusted to mitigate regional or social differences in interrelation with the Environment vis-à-vis human intelligence. What is noteworthy is that a Caucasion would not be likely to be offended by being subjected to a reasonable medical test -- no more than the Soviet wrestling & track contestants ought to have been, similarly, regarding appearances of errors of sexual classification relative to Men's & Women's competition classes. Therefore, instead of dwelling on past Caucasion racial restrictions of the separate development policy (Apartheid), they ought not to have responded so as to tend to justify the alleged reasons which were used to justify those restrictions -- in this case, the unreasonable mass emotional overreaction by the South African Negroes so [unreasonably] offended. And, if there are proper reasons for the Apartheid policy based on improprieties of the Bantu toward the European, the Negro toward the Caucasian: these reasons ought to be fairly examined for veracity or falsehood — for the assumptions which the world has made about egalitarianism are too crucial to ignore whether they are reasonable or unreasonable assumptions. In fact, the future of the world and our respective races and harmony of inter-racial activity, on the same basis, in the same manner, as have been used to justify the forced suppression of racial segregation during a single generation, from c. 1945 till today.In Germany, the truth is no defense against certain allegations of slander, by Public Policy and by Law.That world human relationships should similarly be governed regardless of truth or falsehood, is tantamount to “witch craft”, i.e. the practice of the concept that human will dictates reality, rather than being a component of it. I want very much for the Human Race to make decisions based on reality rather than solely on subjective willpower, regardless of objective truth. The incident under discussion here is demonstrative of the effort people are correctly exerting today to discover whether or not life on earth is to be governed by scientific reason or subjective will, if there by a divergence of the two from truth and reality, both now and the future which we are now making.Whether we human beings can carry on this necessary process in mutual good will is at stake here. At the least, the expression of reasonable views of these issues on this forum, and on others, in a polite and civilised manner, is crucial to the mutual reasonaings which must take place in peace and in liberty.Thank you for this Forum and for the mutual respect necesssary for it to be successful.

Posted by Brooks A. Batson , NP | Report as abusive

To: The Africa Blog Moderator. i posted my comments, shown below, but i now see such was removed by you. WHY?_______________________________Aug 21, 2oo9, to …”my question is why she/he should not be the subject of a gender verification test, if sports officials at the world athletics championships suspects something is wrong or missing with mokgadi ‘caster’ semenya? because she/he is an african, is irrelevant to the issue at hand. she/he should be judged only as an athlete to determine whatever gender this athlete is. it also matters nothing if such a person is now a national hero, it matters only that whatever the truth is of the athlete’s gender that it is established according to the international rules already laid down before the championships began. the test should be welcomed to prove beyond any doubt that the athlete in question has abided by gender qualification, either female or male.if such an athlete has not followed the rules, then whatever win or medal or prize she/he was awarded, should be promptly withdraw without any further ado.”truly, uncle monty. london, uk. :: eve of ramadan, 2oo9.


This kinda stuff really upsets me..and many of you are defending this crap! Its so easy on the outside looking in. A sex test?? WTF. You don’t wait until someone wins to issue something like that! Its humiliating and judgmental! If there was any doubt, it should have been done BEFORE the race. Obviously she is from another country and people are not going to always look like what YOU think is right! If that was the case I can sit here and pick out plenty dude looking women every time a race comes on. If you’re going to do it, then do it to all winners! @ Every race!

Posted by LG | Report as abusive

I personally think that yes she does have male characteristics…. With that said arnt some people male and female that we question???? Some guys sound like they are homosexual when in fact that is just their voice and they may have softer features and look like a female, same goes for women arnt there just some girls you automatically look at and say yep she is gay??? Maybe she wanted to be the best and worked really hard to build up maybe she was working toward body building those women have no curves thick legs and a damn good six pack, I understand that yea if she is a he then yep they should disqualify her him whatever I seriously doubt at her/his age had a sex change how long has she been competing? Does anyone know or are they, the other athelets just worried they wont win the gold?I don’t know but maybe she is a she and maybe she’s a he guess we will soon find out.

Posted by rain | Report as abusive

Where a sport lays out a physical attribute – like weight, gender, etc. – in order to qualify for competition in a particular class, it does not seem unreasonable that a participant should need to pass objective tests sufficient to verify they meet the requirement.This runs amuck in that the testing is not being applied as a consistent policy and that a single participant has been singled out for testing whereas other participants had only to pass subjective outward appearance tests in order to compete.Therefor, I feel that this constitutes discrimination, and retroactive at that. Until such time as a gender test is applied consistently to all contestants going forward its difficult to see it as anything but. Presumably, all contestants need to submit blood samples for anit-doping testing already and I would presume that gender testing could be accomplished from the same sample at little or no additional burden. OR, maybe they should just drop the whole matter.

Posted by Ted | Report as abusive

External morphology can be surgically modified, and may not be standard for individuals with certain conditions like kleinfelter’s. genetic testing is required, and beleive it or not even that can be inconclusive. Sex is not black and white. There exists a substantial grey area.

Posted by Ian McNish | Report as abusive

Please, lets not let politics and any other BS get in the way of a great athlete.


Sabastion – I was, of course, attempting to use sarcasm to point out how utterly trivial this entire discussion is. Political correctness is far from my point. It’s more along the lines of Darwinism. We have seperated the sexes to make competition fair. I got it. I know why we did it. I think we can all agree that this individual is not what the sporting world had in mind when this model was established. So, what happens when we bend the gender rules and our notions of gender based performance are challenged? We get this debate. Now it looks like we will have to better define what we mean by “female” and “male” when it comes to sport just as we have in every other instance. Some predetermined, arbitrary, average hormone balance will now be used to determine which race a person should be running. What happens if this person is too male to be female and not quite male enough to be male? Is there some other category we can create? If so, what prevents us from further segregating athletes into sub classes (Female A, B,…) based on demonstrated testosterone levels? I know it sounds rediculous, but we either establish a metric and disqualify those that fail to meet it, or we remove the controls entirely and let Darwin sort them out.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

Not to even delve into the issue of gender dysmorphia and what are the determining factors, my problem is that this is an 18 year old kid who deserves some semblance of privacy, and if the IOOC is going to issue a statement along the lines of a presumption of innocence, I think they would have gone a long way to have kept the testing secret until the results came back. It’s pretty awful to put a young person through that sort of public scrutiny and embarrassment.

Posted by Grant | Report as abusive

Further to Dave’s post (August 21st, 2009 3:36 pm GMT), why not just separate athletics into two classes:1) Everything goes (sex changes, steroids, male/female, EPO, whatever and et cetera…), and;2) Athletics as it is now, based on effort, training, technique, talent et cetera…, divided into natural capacity, gender, no performance enhancing drugs and all that (as it is now).I guess I’m saying perhaps some people want to use drugs to run faster or jump higher, and then at least it can be “let the best drugs win” in the system I just proposed (it will have a proper forum for its expression then), and that way all the other athletes that don’t use such substances don’t have to play / compete against (what they consider to be) cheats (which they are essentially if they break the rules of the sport(s) to win).As far as this girl goes, testing is fine I say. It wouldn’t matter if the person was white or black, testing at sports at that level is pretty much routine and if you’re an athlete it comes with the territory. That’s what I think anyway.

Posted by Dectra | Report as abusive

Testing isn’t the issue, it’s the timing of the testing that is the problem and that clearly shows prejudice. The fact that this accusation stems from Australia is of no surprise to Africans, this is the same despicable society that marketed doom and gloom about South Africa’s ability to host the world cup and then offered to be considered as the plan b. Really Aussies you need to stop your racist based attacks on Africans and Asians, you do your nation a great disservice.

Posted by Vapour | Report as abusive

I have no problem if they were concerned about testing for her sexual gender if they were suspicious. What I have a problem with is Are they blind? Did they not see her or him when they first signed up, registered or whatever? If there were any questions concerning her gender then why did they not test in the beginning before the race? Why wait until she wins to now all of a sudden question it? Looks like somebody is a sore loser! I love America, am proud to be a American, but stuff like this makes me sad and angry. It’s disgraceful and disrespectful to this person. If after the test is done and she is found to be a she everyone who questioned her needs to publicly stand up and apologize for their ignorance and waiting to test after she won!


THAT WAS A MAN. So all you who scream racism hoping that if they shout loud enough it will all go away; deal with it. They don’t pre-test because most of them lose anyway and it therefore saves them the expense. South Africa should have done the testing but it appears they are so desperate for medals they just let the poor person go on hoping no one would notice. Now Caster will have to live with the trauma of world wide exposure because of the greed of a few.

Posted by CJ | Report as abusive

Rain,I don’t know why you’d bring up homosexuality at all. You are now generalizing that all homosexuals sound like ninnies with high voices and have limp wrists. This article isn’t about a sexuality test, it’s about sex as in gender.I think that people today are just too sensitive. If I were a trackstar and I won a competition only to have my gender questioned, I’d just say “Bring out the doctors.”. Screw discrimination, racism, and everything else people are bringing up. When you enter into a competition and you sign a waiver, you are at the mercy of the officials watching over the event. If you have nothing to hide then just take the test. I’d take 50 if I they wanted me to, just to spite them and waste their money.

Posted by DK | Report as abusive

I haven’t read the entire blog, but it seems no one has mentioned that a similar situation played out in the 2006 Asian games: 6/12/18/sportsline/main2275607.shtmlI think the governing body should have been much more discreet in their approach, but this person must be tested.

Posted by Plasmodium | Report as abusive

I find this situation to be so contankerous unnecessarily. Every culture is different and that should be understood. One size fits all is not an adopted and acceptance gesture amongst all cultures. Everyone who is black does not want horse hair in their head and chemicals to lighten their skin to define their femininity and the likes of those who sit in the judgement seats. I remember Mutola who ran the same distance as this young girl, and she was call a man too until she put the horse hair in her head to define her feminine side. Also,remember the best black young women (Williams sisters)who has held a tennis racquet were also defined by whites as men too, even the dikest one Navaratolova made her comments about them?. You people need to just stop this sick and bias judgement. I hope they do not come up with a Bolt lightening being a girl too because of possessing unsurpassable qualities.

Posted by Cora | Report as abusive

Poor, poor athlete. Not! Get a grip people…racist to confirm gender when gender isn’t clearly known? Absurd. Sexist to doubt same? Rediculous. If a man or woman was wearing a police uniform, one would naturally assume that person was a cop. Yes? Not so. Think about it…. Even though “Caster’s” genetalia may be questionable, nobody I know would mistake Caster for a woman, as she/he has no (even remotely) physical attributes of one. How about we apply the same “how dare you” logic to say…airline travel (and pilots specifically). “How dare you be suspicious of me” (because I’m Middle-Eastern, want to learn how to take off in a airplane, but not how to land one) “You are a racist”! No Sale.

Posted by james | Report as abusive

realy this is great shame for those who propose this idea! still today we African can what ever evry white man can do! to insure this I can site a good example, OBAMA! again OBAMA!!!!! the same is true for SEMENYA of SOUTH AFRIQA!

Posted by teferi | Report as abusive

I think that the ones who crictizes over who’s a man or a women they are the ones who should have a “sex test”not her. It is wrong, they have low low self esteem for themselves and God made a man and a women. You heard the mother is that enough for you all. I hate when people jugde other people just by their sex then their color whats next come on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by jim | Report as abusive

I wholeheartedly concur with Denyutali Mgaya. Africa is incredibly rich in its diversity of cultures and landscapes and natural resources, but we are repeatedly led to believe that the whole continent is impoverished and in desperate need of our help. For heaven’s sake! Ever seen the slums and levels of poverty in the US? The 50,000 homeless who are known to sleep out on the streets of New York alone year round? The impoverished intelligence of people of all socioeconomic backgrounds who happen to eat some of the worst “food” (junk food) in the world?I believe that western countries with a vested interest in Africa’s natural resources started a campaign some years ago to discredit Africa and Africans, and the US has stepped up political interference in strategically located countries such as Somalia and Liberia. I believe that this is a prelude to moving in with armies to expropriate oil, etc., as was done in Iraq and as is happening in Afghanistan.I have lived in Africa and found it to be very rich in everything and not at all as our governments would have us believe. I have also lived in North America and found it to be unhealthy, gluttonous and very poor culturally. As Denyutali Mgaya says, westerners do feel comfortable when Africa fails in everything. But Africa has not failed in what is truly meaningful.We’re used to our western 18-year old girls looking like porn queens so maybe it is natural for us to look at a female body clearly built for speed as somehow more masculine. A lot of western countries’ best athletes / runners are black, are they not? We whites not very good at it, and they are. The investigation of Semenya looks like racism and sour grapes to me.As a couple of people have commented, just get a doctor to have Semenya drop her pants to have the case closed quickly. She shouldn’t have to endure this!

Posted by Ann | Report as abusive

Carol, “intersex” might be the PC term for a hermaphrodite, but it is a meaningless scientific term that has replaced a word that was well understood due to our knowledge of Greek mythology. Now that we and our children have virtually stopped reading and spend so much time instead on brain-numbing pursuits such as TV and video games, we have forgotten meaningfulness.hermaphrodite XV. — L. hermaphrod?tus — Gr. hermaphród?tos, orig. proper name of a son of Hermes and Aphrodite, who grew together with the nymph Salmacis while bathing in her fountain and so combined male and female characters.Now isn’t that more memorable than a word that sounds like an orgy?

Posted by Ann | Report as abusive

Whenever there is a doubt, they test. I think that the people crying racism, or privacy, are deluded as to how far a person or country would go to win. Sex-change surgery, along with hormone treatment is a drop in the bucket compared with the long term effects of many of the drug regimens athletes undergo. This is a routine test, and yes, you only typically test the winners, to save on cost. Since men are genetically bigger and stronger, it is the females that normally have to be tested to ensure they are really female.

Posted by James Perly | Report as abusive

It’s an unfortunate situation because I can understand all parties but the IAAF did a very bad job. It’s fair for other competitors to have doubts about her gender but it’s also unfair for Semenya to have to prove at this point her gender after having been allowed to compete in the first place. She didn’t bend any rule.My understanding is that she went through the same rules as everyone to get to this point. So if something is wrong, it has to be the rules and/or IAAF. And not Semenya.I personally believe that IAAF simply messed up. At least they should have been consistent with their own rules. They are the one who qualified her to compete and those are the same who want to test her gender again.I can also understand south african frustration because it looks like IAAF decided to stand by Semenya competitors rather than by standing by their own rules. I don’t think IAAF would have done the test had no one complained.

Posted by Ananda | Report as abusive

It’s pathetic how people are going on and on about racism , Nationalism, Anti-Africanism….etc.It’s really a simple matter, this runner looks very much like a man, period. Quit making up hidden reasons to publicize other agendas, this only only about one thing. The runner looks very much like a man , even among other masculine looking women.

Posted by flex | Report as abusive

Although Senmenya going through a a posteriori test a questionable, I think because we have using new metrics to assess her gender, all competitors should go through the same test, or at least all the potential winners.Let’s suppose that Semenya fails the test, how do we now know that the others would have not failed the same test?!

Posted by Ananda | Report as abusive

They should do like the old times: Run Naked

Posted by Grandsome | Report as abusive

Are you all seeing what I am seeing? I just discovered that the true nature of this human being, by analyzing her name: SEMENYA.It sounds like Se—Men—Ya, in other words, see Men, ya!This so-called woman just look like a woman to foul us, but in reality she is a man. Men is in this middle of her name. Even one of my friends told me that, “Because she is so ugly, she is looks like a man, otherwise she is a woman”.Anyway, let’s keep the debate open.

Posted by Morris | Report as abusive

People can say anything they like about gender, skin colour, culture or nationality.But the reality is that she should be, and is going to be tested. And nothing that anyone says will stop the test from happening.These tests are to ensure that the races are fair for everyone. If someone takes part in a race, they agree to be subjected to testing.If she has nothing to hide, she has nothing to fear from the test.If there are people who believe the test should not occur, perhaps it is because they fear the possible result?

Posted by Hmmm | Report as abusive

I agree with Ananda__the authoroties were terrible in their handling of the case but fact is__rules are there for everyone in competition at this level and how you were raised can never determine gender,,,,imagine a man boxing against female opponents,,,the rules are also there for the protection of ALL competitors.

Posted by Thom | Report as abusive

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Maybe the IAAF has to conduct these tests, but why now. This girl has always been competing at Junior level, why is there only talk now when she’s kicking the butts of the Europeans. This is just bulltish! South Africa and Africa at large must fight this or else history will judge us very harshly. Caster you rock! Waliklebhula irekhodi (Zulu for, you smashed the reckod!)


This thing lacks UBUNTU you don’t do that to a human being. The humiliation was not warranted. Even the IAAF has acknowledged that they mishandled this whole thing which then puts questions on the MOTIVE????


The fuss is unfounded.The only fair alternative to scrapping tests is for women to compete against men.That would condemn women to being non-paticipants.As a South African I must point out that the GENDER TEST carried out on fellow South African Zola Pietese (nee Bud) in 1984 produced no such fuss.The race card being played by politicians in South Africa is always used when other arguments are unsound.

Posted by brian odoherty | Report as abusive

She should be compensated by the international board of athletics, once its established Shes is a Women.

Posted by Eli Jyah - Ld Elon | Report as abusive

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