It’s actually a debate, see?

Let Her Run. 

By now, we’ve probably all seen her face, paraded and splashed across the various newspapers and magazines of the world. International news conglomerates are clamouring to squeeze every little detail out of her private story. Her victories are conveniently pushed aside so that someone can get rich to sell the most intimate details of her private life. If you’re thinking this is another sob story about an air-headed, bottle-blonde, French-manicured monstrosity we call a ‘celebrity’, you’ve got it wrong.
I’m speaking of 18 year-old Caster Semenya of South Africa.
At first glance, you would think she is just an incredibly fit young woman striving to make her mark in the world of athletics, much like Lance Armstrong, Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps have done in their respective sports. And much like those athletes, her genetic make-up makes it capable for her to dominate her chosen sport. Unfortunately, her remarkable athletic prowess has also put her in the line of fire of scandal.
Her more masculine appearance made people question her gender or wonder if she had taken steroids, and if her hard-earned medal should be stripped from her. She was subjected to another round of gender tests, the first being done in secret by her own country, and the second by the IAAF.
Hours after the results of the second were finalized, they were leaked out and the world came to know of this poor-girl’s private life. Knowing this, critics questioned her right to compete with females, since it became evident that Caster had a biological advantage over her fellow athletes.
But the question they should be asking is: should any athlete with some natural advantage be able to compete with ‘normal’ human beings? Is it fair? Caster’s case put our hypocritical nature into the spotlight. Few may remember the Australian swimmer, Ian Thorpe – he dominated the swimming scene all the way up to his retirement in 2006. He had a huge natural advantage over his competitors, standing 6’ 5” and size 17 feet, practically giving him natural flippers. In more recent memory, Lance Armstrong, who garnered a remarkable seven straight wins of the tour de France, had a large advantage, having an over-sized heart, that could beat up to 200 times a minute, thus pumping massive amounts of oxygen around his body.
Their advantages were never questioned.
So, should a someone, who had been raised as a girl, treated like a girl and thought of as a girl her whole life, have her gold medal taken away from her for being too masculine?
Of course not.
After all the hard work she has put into her athletic career and the humiliation the world has caused her, does she deserve to keep her title?
Now that sport has evolved to become so much more competitive, one would have to have some natural advantage to stand out and shine. So kudos goes out to Caster Semenya for winning gold, and hopefully we will be able to see her competing along fellow woman at the 2012 Olympics.

Haley Whishaw
Human rights lover

Disqualify Her.

It was a proud moment for both Caster Semenya and her home country of South Africa when the 18-year old took home the gold medal in the 800 meter dash at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics. The uproar ensued after she placed a time of 1:55.45 and it was leaked that a gender test had revealed her to have secondary male characteristics. It then became questionable as to whether Semenya had won due to training or due to her body’s natural physical advantage. Although Semenya herself claims to be female, the fact that she is a hermaphrodite makes her biologically part male – to allow a male to compete and potentially win amongst females would be unfair to the competition.
The issue was turned over to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and their role in determining the athlete’s eligibility in future competitions. Although such a decision has yet to be made, it would be absurd to allow her to compete against females when there is such strong evidence of her unjust advantage. In comparison to an average woman, Semenya’s body has been said to contain three times the amount of testosterone - a hormone that, alongside many physical benefits, promotes increased muscle mass and strength. In merely a month, she had already beaten her own previous record by four seconds.
Furthermore, Semenya is not the only athlete that needs to be taken into consideration. Making an exception for one runner would mean disregarding all of her future competitors and the disadvantage they hold against her on the block. The acceptance of Semenya’s unusual condition is so desired that much of the public has resorted to viewing her situation with sympathy. It therefore needs to be realized that much of the sympathy is being extended toward an athletic advantage that has already led to the gaining of multiple honors.
However, if the decision is ruled in favour of Semenya’s ineligibility, it won’t be the first time an athlete has been banned from competition to maintain equity. Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius competed amongst able-bodied athletes with two prosthetic legs until the IAAF ruled him ineligible due to the unfair mechanical advantage that his prosthetics provided. They passed a rule failing to allow the use of any device that gave an advantage to its user. That goal of eliminating illegitimate advantages should be applied to Semenya’s case as well. Although she has used no physical contraption, she is equipped with organs that no ‘normal’ woman possesses. Oscar Pistorius was able to control his situation no more than Semenya is hers and exceptions should not be made to accommodate the middle distance runner.
Semenya has recently been shown to have a new appearance that emphasizes her feminine features. This does nothing to override the fact that she will continue to have testes that will produce increased amounts of testosterone in her body and provide her with an unfair edge over other athletes. Her performances have and will continue to be impacted more by the internal male sex organs that she possesses than by the external female ones, prominent or not. Semenya’s gender choice does little to affect the knowledge that her advantages are due to having male characteristics.

Alexa Ray
Freedom Hater

Enjoy it? Share this on Facebook


© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: