The Life of Intersex Runner Caster Semenya

Caster Semenya is an Olympic gold medalist — but she was recently barred from competing at the next IAAF World Athletics Championships because of her testosterone levels. This is her story.

Quick decisions on “someone looks like a man”

An Olympic champion who has hyperandrogenism, Caster Semenya was born in 1991, in South Africa. As a child, she played soccer but later switched to track and field. At the age of 18, she was noticed at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Berlin. Her appearance, deep voice and performance surprised many. She was suspected of being a man. The International Association of Athletics Federations conducted “femininity testing” on her.

Nick Davis IAAF spokesman states, “There is a protocol, it’s the IOC’s protocol, the Olympic sport protocol, on gender verification. And that’s why it’s so rigorous and so important to do the tests and not to make quick judgements, quick decisions on “someone looks like a man; therefore, they must be a man.” In August 2010, the verdict came: she is intersex and has hyperandrogenism — which means her body produces a high level of testosterone.”

Starting in 2009 for 2 years, the Federation and the Court of Arbitration for Sport clashed over draft legislation that could prevent her from competing or require her to undergo hormone treatment. In January 2017, she renewed her vows to her partner, Violet Raseboya, who she’d married in a traditional ceremony in 2015. A few months later, she won her 3rd title for the 800 meters and won the bronze medal for the 1,500 meters in the World Championships held in London.

In March 2018, she earned a degree in Sports Science. In May 2019, the International Association of Athletics Federations introduced a regulation requiring female athletes with hyperandrogenism to undergo treatment to lower their testosterone level before they can compete in races ranging from 400 meters to a mile. In July 2019, despite the appeals Semenya submitted to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Swiss Supreme Court, the Federation’s regulation held. Semenya was barred from competing and will not be able to participate in the World Championships taking place this September in Qatar.


08/03/2019 11:57 AM
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  • Tula P.
    08/03/2019 12:48

    White people,!!!!

  • Kamau N.
    08/03/2019 12:50

    So she has a NATURAL advantage that helps her win.. so does Shaquille's big body help him in basketball and so is Michael Phelps body structure and his ability to produce half the lactic acid compared to other swimmers. It's a natural advantage, people are just looking for excuses when they loose to her, "oh i was defeated by a 'man' so it's okay"...well, you still lost Karen. Should Michael Phelps take drugs to make him produce more lactic acid and be more like other swimmers?

  • Valerie I.
    08/03/2019 13:08

    She scares men, that's why they won't let her compete. But it was ok for Arnold Schwartzenager to dope up to look like a hulk when he was body building.

  • David P.
    08/03/2019 14:08

    This is so wrong! I wonder if it was a man who had this issue how would they treat him? This is her natural hormones how dare they tell her to take drugs to control it!😤😤

  • Jeremy S.
    08/03/2019 14:30

    she is a man....dont believe me SHE HAS AN ADAMS APPLE...only men have this..she wins as the only cause she is a MAN running competing against woman.......

  • Susan P.
    08/03/2019 14:34


  • Lisa C.
    08/03/2019 14:57

    That's simply note fair it's a natural advantage she should not be made to put drugs in her body

  • Michelle J.
    08/03/2019 15:11

    She has XY chromosomes which are typically male.

  • Malcolm A.
    08/03/2019 15:23

    I bet if she was from the United Kingdom, she’d be a a hero and why is there subtext she’s speaking English SMDH.

  • Maureen C.
    08/03/2019 15:28

    She is an athlete, so let her compete with the men. Apparently, she is living as a man.

  • Melvin V.
    08/03/2019 15:47

    If she were white this wouldn't be an issue...😒

  • Daisy B.
    08/03/2019 16:02

    Not ok.

  • Shirley H.
    08/03/2019 16:13

    Having naturally-high levels of testosterone, which are probably equivalent to a man (voice, physique, etc.,) make it unfair to the women she competes against. I agree with the ban unless she lowers her testosterone levels. But then maybe she should be allowed to compete with the men....?

  • Sadeyes M.
    08/03/2019 17:03


  • Bill R.
    08/03/2019 17:45

    This is another ridiculous example of a rule being stupid and born of ignorance and prejudice. She deserves to be able to compete with what nature gave her, whether or not anyone else likes it. Suck it up, everyone else.

  • Kaylee N.
    08/03/2019 18:11

    They don’t do this to men. Why does it matter how her body naturally works? This is stupid.

  • Mikael P.
    08/03/2019 20:17

    shes a man

  • Tony W.
    08/03/2019 21:21

    she a man

  • Michele V.
    08/03/2019 21:41

    This is like telling unusually tall people they aren't allowed to play basketball competitively. 😒

  • Pedro J.
    08/03/2019 21:48

    European standards has the world hostage in every level, it has basically kidnapped the 🌍. Cause if she was European she would be held as the greatest Athlete ever in her sport. All countries should not participate, and hold a tournament somewhere else. Shame