A sporting controversy: what do you think about this?

image_pdfimage_print
Caster Semenya. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Caster Semenya, a middle-distance runner from South Africa, is at the top of her game. Her most recent victory was the 800m race in Doha on May 3, 2019. But while she won the race, she lost a battle when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejected her appeal of a new rule by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that restricts testosterone levels in female runners. The Court stated that their decision was “necessary, reasonable and proportionate to make sure competition was fair for females.”

What’s the issue? Caster is a female athlete who naturally has a higher level of testosterone in her body than most women. Testosterone is a hormone that helps our bodies develop and is usually found at higher levels in men than in women. Caster’s elevated testosterone levels are not because she has taken steroids or other performance-boosting drugs, but are a natural occurrence. When this fact was revealed after a test, other athletes protested saying that this gave her an unfair advantage in any race. Caster feels treated unfairly too, saying “I just want to run naturally, the way I was born.”

What does the new rule mean? The new rule means that she will now have to take medication to lower the testosterone levels in her body if she wants to compete. Though they ruled against her, the Court of Arbitration for Sport did say that there were problems of putting the new rule into practice and also warned of the harmful side effects that hormone treatment could cause in those who were forced to take it to compete.

Gender. Credit: Pixabay

Is the new rule fair? The ruling has caused anger and has brought up many issues. First, the scientific one.  Yale University researcher Katrina Karkazis has said that there is no confirmed link between high testosterone levels and better performance of the track. Hormone levels in the body are continually changing and may be different at different times in the same person – a fact that can’t be monitored without frequent, invasive testing.

It is also a gender question. Several female athletes, who may be bigger built than others,  were made to test to ‘prove’ that they were women. Many activists have said that it is against human rights and the universal ‘sex test’ was abolished. However, there are still people who take up this cause, which has led to this controversial ruling.

Some countries are refusing to implement the new rules. The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports, the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sports and AthletesCAN, have said that they do not support the decision. Athletics Canada has said it won’t implement the policy in Canada.

Semenya is determined to continue to run, and she has said that she will keep fighting against what she considers to be biased.

Let’s discuss this: The ruling actually brings up more questions than it answers. Human bodies are all different.  If there is a way to even things out like the medication to lower testosterone, should it be used in the name of fairness? What happens if a basketball player is naturally tall? Should you, or can you, penalise him/her for that? What about the very real advantages in terms of coaching, training, diet etc. that athletes from more developed countries have over those from less developed ones? What if a person does not want to take medication for personal and health reasons but would now have to?

We would love to hear your opinions so write in to us at mail@currentkids.in and tell us what you feel about this debate. It is one that is far from over.


Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant. She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.

Spread the love
No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Write to us at
mail@currentkids.in

Help us keep currentkids, current! We’d love to hear about your crazy adventures and experiences. Send us your pictures, travel diaries, thoughts on cool new gadgets, gaming experiences and anything else you find interesting!

About Us

Welcome to our entertaining and empowering news source for kids with inquisitive minds! This is a digital space that keeps kids aged 8 and above (and your families!) connected to what’s happening in the world. We filter a wide variety of news, events, and interesting bits of trivia to develop short, relevant, unbiased content in creative formats. We give everyone something to relate to and get engaged with in short bytes of information with a snappy, chatty feel. We believe in encouraging curiosity, creativity and continued learning in our safe digital space.

Why is reading non-fiction important?

This helps curious minds to learn more about the outside world. It also enriches their vocabulary and their general knowledge. Simplified news helps children to express their opinions easily with their friends and family and gives them some perspective on complex issues. Our safe news website will give you parents a useful tool with which to navigate the digital world with your children.

We hope you enjoy our posts!

Biyash & Sunaina