View Full Version : Caster Semenya, Man or Woman?

08-20-2009, 06:52 PM
When Caster Semenya beat the world's top female sprinters in the 800-metre event earlier this week, she set a world-leading pace and crossed the finish line 2.45 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.

The only problem is that some people believe the 18-year-old South African is a man.

Speculation about Semenya's gender has been swirling as she has posted dramatic improvements in her race times in recent months, while other skeptics have pointed to her deep voice and muscular build as alleged evidence that she is actually a man.

The controversy has even stoked the curiosity of track and field's ruling body.

The same day that she won her race in Berlin, the International Association of Athletics Federations said that Semenya was undergoing a test to verify her gender.

Prior to her victory, IAAF spokesperson Nick Davies said it was a "medical issue, not an issue of cheating."

Calling gender verification testing "extremely complex" in nature, Davies said the process involved a physical medical evaluation and reports from various specialists including a gynecologist, gender expert and endocrinologist.

Such tests are normally completed before the time of competition, but Semenya's quick rise to fame has left the IAAF scrambling to deal with the issue.

The South Africa team manager, Phiwe Mlangeni-Tsholetsane, wouldn't confirm or deny that Semenya was undergoing such testing.

"We entered Caster as a woman and we want to keep it that way," Mlangeni-Tsholetsane said. "Our conscience is clear in terms of Caster. We have no reservations at all about that."

The head of South Africa's Olympic governing body decried the remarks being made about Semenya in the media.

"We condemn the way she was linked with such media speculation and allegation, especially on a day she ran the final of her first major world event," said Gideon Sam. "It's the biggest day of her life."

Semenya's family lives in the South African village of Fairlie, about 500 kilometres north of Johannesburg. They say the teenage track star is a woman.

Her father Jacob told the Sowetan newspaper that he has "never doubted her gender."

"She is a woman and I can repeat that a million times," he said.

Her paternal grandmother, Maputhi Sekgala, said the fuss being made over Semenya's gender "doesn't bother me that much because I know she's a woman."

"What can I do when they call her a man, when she's really not a man? It is God who made her look that way," Sekgala told the The Times newspaper in South Africa.

The IAAF could strip Semenya of her gold medal if the testing proves that she is actually a man, though the organization's general secretary, Pierre Weiss, said the teenager should be given the benefit of the doubt.

He said the testing was ordered because of "ambiguity, not because we believe she is cheating."

British sprinter Jennifer Meadows said she would feel "very sorry" for Semenya if the allegations are proven to be untrue.

Meadows also said Semenya's run was a dominant performance.

"Nobody else in the world can do that sort of time at the moment," said Meadows, who placed third in the race that Semenya won on Wednesday.

"She obviously took the race by storm."

Semenya is not the first athlete to be at the centre of a track-related gender controversy.

Three years ago, Indian runner Santhi Soundarajan lost her medal after failing a gender test.

And more than 70 years before that case, Polish athlete Stanislawa Walasiewicz won gold in the 100-metre event at the 1932 Olympics. She was born with ambiguous genitalia.

Gender screenings were dropped from the Olympics before the 2000 Sydney Games.

With files from The Associated Press

Gut instinct says: Man

08-20-2009, 07:11 PM

08-20-2009, 07:14 PM
"ambiguous genitalia"? Wow :|

As for this Caster character, she appears to be more male than female but i'm sure it's more complicated than that.

08-20-2009, 07:26 PM
Sarah Gronert, a female tennis player, was born with ambiguous genitalia but had the male parts surgically removed before she turned pro.

That must have been pretty traumatic...

08-20-2009, 07:42 PM

I 2nd this!

08-20-2009, 11:51 PM
"That's a man, baby!"

08-21-2009, 04:48 AM
Looks like a job for

08-21-2009, 05:02 AM
hw do you test if one is a male or female>?

08-21-2009, 05:07 AM
I just figured you looked under their skirt... But I guess if they have "ambiguous genitalia"

*oooipp* Sorry, just threw up a bit in my mouth.

it would be hard to tell.

08-21-2009, 05:09 AM
hw do you test if one is a male or female>?

Good question....apparently it's quite complicated from a genetic standpoint since there is a grey area where about 1 in 2000 people can be cast into this ambiguous 3rd class. From waht I understand, one cannot judge based on physical characteristics alone. I'm not a genetics expert so I can't begin to explain it. I do know they are testing to try and make a definitive classification in this case.

08-21-2009, 10:15 AM
hw do you test if one is a male or female>?

Show them beer.

08-21-2009, 10:26 AM
LA times has a concise article but it's not online. This
one is similar...


08-21-2009, 10:28 AM

It is a very complicated issue.

08-21-2009, 10:36 AM
If you unscambble the letters, you get ‘A secret man? Yes.’

08-21-2009, 10:40 AM
Or "yes a secret man" hahaha

08-21-2009, 10:45 AM


08-21-2009, 12:08 PM
Definitely Mary Carillo.