The games are old but not the controversy is. Rio Olympics 2016‘s runner, Caster Semenya, is facing accusations but not of doping, the question is about her gender!
The South African runner is highly expected to win the 800 m in Rio Olympics 2016. But some people doubt her gender as the 25 years old athlete has testosterone levels three times higher than an average woman which is about equal to that found in a man. So they are left questioning whether she is biologically a woman or not.
Discussions shed some light on Semenya’s gender and pointed out that the athlete lacks a womb and has internal testes due to a chromosomal abnormality. She looks like a man; the face and physique both are hard and masculine. She has a syndrome called condition hyperandrogenism, which is responsible for the production of an extreme quantity of male hormones in her body.
Although, the South African runner has always identified herself as a woman in social terms, yet doctors categorize her as a hermaphrodite. She tends to be more masculine than feminine in her outlook and body features, but she considers herself a woman and has always participated in the women’s category.
Well, now many people have started to question her participation as a woman on a point when she is tipped to win. The question is although kind of awkward, but important and should be handled with great sensitivity.
If Semenya is allowed with such high levels of hormones, what about the women with raised hormone level through doping? Will they also be allowed to compete? Also, Semenya’s physique has raised the questions on how should men and women be divided, for instance, what should be the standards to be followed when one participant is qualifying for both?
The world of sports had clear boundaries for the two genders but the runner has raised the debate of a complex nature. If she is not allowed to compete as a woman, it would probably be discrimination on the basis of something she could not control. On the other hand, if yes, the female sport might be dominated by intersex players in future.