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Caster Semenya has elevated testosterone levels

(90 Posts)
SpawnChorus Tue 25-Aug-09 17:21:44

Here

Assuming that they are naturally elevated (and there's no reason to think otherwise), don't you think that it's fair for her to compete with other women? Apparently the regulators are now deciding whether this gives her an "unfair advantage" but surely differences in physique and biochemistry are a huge part of any athlete's success? Would an athlete be disqualified for having unusually long legs, or exceptionally large lungs? Why does a natural excess in hormones be different?

CoteDAzur Tue 25-Aug-09 17:23:30

Imho, "woman" is someone with XY chromosomes. "Man" is someone with YY chromosomes.

Hormone levels are neither here nor there.

EccentricaGallumbits Tue 25-Aug-09 17:28:12

a woman has an xx and a man has an xy.

SpawnChorus Tue 25-Aug-09 19:34:37

Well I mainly agree with that, although even that argument doesn't cover the complexities of "inter-gender" chromosomal disorders.

BitOfFun Tue 25-Aug-09 19:40:42

Lol @ Cote- I wouldn't have dared hazard a guess grin

chichichien Tue 25-Aug-09 19:45:36

she don't half look like a bloke though

mamadoc Tue 25-Aug-09 23:16:26

Sorry Cote but its not actually that easy.
There are people with XXY (Klinefelters syndrome) who appear male and people with testicular feminisation who are XY but don't produce testosterone and have female genitalia. And a whole lot of other genetic conditions too.
In some cases it really isn't easy to say.

SomeGuy Tue 25-Aug-09 23:37:40

can she get pregnant? (not saying that's a necessary criterion, but it would seem definitive proof)

Platesmasher Tue 25-Aug-09 23:39:48

Cote - it's apparently not that simple. Interesting expert on the radio the other day said so.

waitingforfanjo Wed 26-Aug-09 00:45:03

Yes, very difficult situation. Both my female cousins were born with male genitalia but were actually female. Apparently everyone thought the oldest girl was a boy for about a month, then she became ill & it all came to light. They already had one boy who was not affected, so it was definitely a genetic thing that just affected the girls.

I think they both underwent surgery at very young ages but it was a long time ago and I don't know how it was actually dscovered or decided that they were in fact female.

HeadFairy Wed 26-Aug-09 00:48:17

I'm very hmm about this whole story. It's not so much about the ethics of sex testing, but more that she's come from nowhere and won by massive margins. That kind of improvement in form makes me suspicious.

waitingforfanjo Wed 26-Aug-09 00:49:55

Didn't explain that very well,I meant I don't know the criteria that was used to establish whether my cousins were male or female. For all I know they may have had internal female reproductive organs, but then that's not enough on it's own to class them as female, since they had male reproductive organs too.

HeadFairy Wed 26-Aug-09 01:06:20

mark porter gives a very sensitive description of the difficulties of determining sex

akhems Wed 26-Aug-09 06:40:33

I saw her on bbc news last night and she appeared to have an adam's apple, as well as looking very male.

Horrible situation for her to be in.

dogofpoints Wed 26-Aug-09 18:47:09

We have eyes, peoples. She's a bloke

SpawnChorus Wed 26-Aug-09 20:02:16

And you're a dog? wink

totalmisfit Wed 26-Aug-09 20:20:14

i'm finding it quite astonishing how little i know about intergender (is that the right expression?) conditions. i consider myself fairly well educated but i have to confess i assumed the matter of male/female was fairly clear cut, when it really isn't.

maryz Wed 26-Aug-09 23:48:33

Headfairy, she didn't really come from nowhere - she won the South African Junior Champs last year, by a mile apparently. She was born a girl, brought up as a woman, and as far as I am concerned if she is genetically xx she should run as a woman. I agree with spawnchorus, her testosterone level should be irrelevent.

If she is xxy, or "intergender" in some way, she deserves sympathy - this isn't just the end of her life as an athlete, but also as a woman as she will never have children and will probably have a very difficult life.

I hate all this media speculation. She is 18 fgs. Dogofpoints, imagine if it was your daughter!

Tidey Wed 26-Aug-09 23:51:35

Poor thing. Who was it that pointed out her name's an anagram of 'Yes A Secret Man'?

HeadFairy Wed 26-Aug-09 23:53:44

Maryz, that's not quite the same as say the buzz that's surrounded Usain Bolt for a few years now. They were talking about him a good couple of years ago. I don't doubt that there's some thing unusual about her, I don't know enough about it, but the margins she won by seem to great for me. Look at Bolt, he smashed the world record the other week and he was still only marginally ahead of his nearest competitors. She was so far in front of the rest of the field it seems so strange. I'm not saying that it's her fault or anything at all, and poor her if she does have some hormonal problems, but you cannot say that her elevated testosterone levels haven't given her an advantage. It's just down to the world Athletics authority to decide if that's fair or not.

AitchwonderswhoFruitCrumbleis Wed 26-Aug-09 23:55:12

poor girl, this whole thing must be so humiliating for her. even if she is intersex in some way, she's only a kid, she can't possibly be emotionally equipped to deal with all this in front of the whole world.

AitchwonderswhoFruitCrumbleis Wed 26-Aug-09 23:56:50

yes, but being good at running also gives you an advantage. my dh couldn't run faster than her, and he's got higher testosterone levels than her, presumably.

all athletes are freaks in some way or another, in that respect.

maryz Wed 26-Aug-09 23:59:09

But she didn't break the world record, so it isn't that exceptional. She is only 18 - she has been around and doing gradually better times for over a year, which is what you would expect at that age. A year ago, she didn't even have a full-time coach - now she has the support and back up of being in an international team - of course she has improved a lot.

Now, if she improves by as much or more over the next year, then I would be surprised.

I just think that when it comes to a girl of her age and experience, we should all remember that she should be supported as innocent until and unless she is proved to be guilty of something.

PinkTulips Thu 27-Aug-09 00:13:22

Poor thing, the issue's been treated appallingly by the media.

She does carry herself like a man though, gestures like a man, runs like a man, musculature and physique of a man, hint of a moustache and adam's apple.

She may have been raised as a girl but it does appear though there might be more to it.

I wonder what will happen if she is intersex? will she just be banned from competing? seems unfair, especially as the Olympics committee apparently doesn't allow sex testing anymore

HeadFairy Thu 27-Aug-09 00:15:25

Presumably she entered the world Athletics championships of her own accord, and to win? I don't think you can then complain if you are investigated in some way. yes it might be humiliating for her, and I wouldn't wish that on her or anyone, but all athletes have to submit to testing of some kind. Have you not seen them heading off to a portaloo after a competition to give their urine samples? In front of thousands? That's pretty embarrassing no? It's part of making competition fair.

I take your point Mary about not breaking the world record, but the distance between her and the rest of the field was phenomenal. Larger than I've seen in a while. I don't think Kelly Holmes ever achieved anything like that, but maybe she was never as exceptional as Caster Semenya.

Aitch - I think you're right about all athletes being freaks in some way... a big part of Usain Bolt's success is down to his unique biomechanics.. he's got a massive stride and just moves differently to other runners.

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