Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: Competitive Edge

In men's sports (particularly baseball), if you all of a sudden start to dominate your competition they check you for steroids. If you're a female track star and you do the same, they check you for...something else.

The South African track and field federation has been asked to check the gender of 18-year-old Caster Semenya, who became the 800m champion at this year's track and field World Championships in Berlin on Wednesday.

Track and field's world governing body asked for the test almost a month ago, after Semenya dramatically improved her times in the 800m and the 1500m races - even posting the world's best time this year in the 800m three weeks ago.

If you're anything like me, you'd likely assume it's pretty easy to check somebody's gender. Upon reading further into this case though, it's not as clear cut as you might think.

IAAF spokesman Nick Davies says legally, it's a "very complex" situation, and wouldn't say what they would do if tests determine that Semenya "does not meet the requirements to compete" as a woman.

Apparently, it's not as easy as just stripping her of all her results either, should she fail the tests. Davies says "if it's a natural thing and the athlete has always thought she's a woman or been a woman, it's not exactly cheating." But if she has undergone a sex change or something, it would be "much easier" to strip results.

I'm not sure what would be more embarrassing for Semenya: the fact that people don't believe she is a girl (if she is), or failing the tests and being outed as a cheater.

Either way, at least she's not on steroids, right?

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