When 18-year old South African athlete Caster Semenya raced to the finish line during the 800 metre race at the IAAF World Championships, not only did she streak far ahead of her competitors to clinch the gold medal, she also created a media storm. Ever since Caster appeared on the international racing scene earlier this year, there have been eyebrows raised over her gender. Caster, her family and the South African Sports Authorities insist that she is female but many around the world are asking questions.
Due to Caster’s distinctively masculine physique; sports fans and competitors are not so convinced that she is female. Even her high school principal admitted that he did not realize that she was female until during the 10th Grade. He stated that for the duration of her stay at the school, she wore the male version of the school uniform.
The IAAF has requested an investigation which is currently ongoing. A team of doctors including an endocrinologist, a gynecologist, an internal medicine expert, an expert on gender and a psychologist are going to investigate the case. Some experts are speculating that Caster has a rare genetic disorder that means she has female genitalia but male chromosomes. This condition, known as intersex, is commonly referred to as hermaphroditism.
If Caster is found to be male or if she has the ‘intersex’ condition, she will be stripped of her gold medal.
It is quite interesting that this story has generated this level of media interest. It seems as though most people have already concluded that she is not ‘female’. Regardless of the result, it must be difficult for an 18-year old to be in the centre of such controversy. Hope she is holding up well.
What do you make of this controversy?
See Cester’s Gold medal winning race below:
Caster Post-Run Interview (Semis):