Has white privilege once again defeated Caster Semenya?

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They wouldn’t stop until they got her.

For years there’s been a concerted effort to crush and expel  the South African 800 meter champion Caster Semenya. For many years big voices in world athletics  included  the President of the IAAF Sebastian Coe and former Marathon Champion Paula Radcliffe, either implicitly or explicitly stated that  biologically Caster was not a woman.  Some argued that because her levels of testosterone were high that she was man and therefore, she should be thrown out of athletics. The scientific world  proved them wrong and said categorically that Caster was a woman born with an unusually high level of testosterone.

Not content with the laws of nature , Radcliffe and others shifted their position to find another way to get rid of Semanya. In what can only be described as an astonishing outburst fuelled by shocking irrationality Radcliffe and others stated that allowing women with high levels of testosterone  to compete with other women:

"Will open the door for transgender athletes being able to say: 'You know what, we don't need to bring our [testosterone] levels down either, we don't need to have any surgery, we can just identity how we feel and we can come in and compete in women's sport?"

It seems these powerful voices against Semanya proved decisive and she lost her appeal to compete as a natural female athlete.

The sad irony of Radcliffe’s argument is that for Semanya to compete with other women she would have to cheat and take drugs to unnaturally change who she is.  But the other aspect to Radcliff’s argument is why would the athletics foundation accept transgender athletes who had artificially transformed their testosterone to compete with women?

Surely the fairest rule should be; you compete with what gift you were born with. No more no less. What next do we ban: Tall swimmers who have a distinct advantage with bigger feet and a longer reach in their arms? Or what about long distance runners who live in high altitudes?

This is a sad day for sport, and a worrying precedent particularly driven by a white elite. But above all it’s a sad day for a woman - Caster Semanya,  who was simply and naturally born to run.

Simon Woolley
 

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