The Importance Of Cheering For Caster Semenya
Lindsay Gibbs

The progressive argument for supporting Semenya makes sense, but it is remarkably ignorant of the science of athletics.

Part of the problem with well-intentioned but misinformed support of Semenya is that it only stokes the flames of those who object to her place in the sport for “reasons” stemming from prejudice. Hyperandrogenism is not the same as trans athletes competing, as a transwoman athlete on HRT would have comparable serum testosterone levels to a biological female. Caster is competing admirably and according to the current rules, but to ignore the fact that the rules are clearly broken is disrespectful to everyone else in the sport. There is PLENTY of scientific evidence suggesting that testosterone leads to a 10–12% increase in performance, and in a case where an athlete with hyperandrogenism is able to benefit from testosterone levels above 10 nmol/L (some with medical conditions produce higher levels of testosterone but cannot benefit physiologically) they gain an unfair advantage.

The manner in which Semenya has been treated by the public and the IAAF is reprehensible and she is certainly deserving of our respect, but to blithely celebrate her without an understanding of the nuance of this issue is wrong. All of athletics, for both men and women, is about policing bodies- if you have a banned substance in your system, you cannot compete. In the NCAA system, if you present signs of disordered eating, you cannot compete. Professional athletes must update their country’s anti-doping agency with their location to be available for drug testing on a daily basis. Participation in athletics is a voluntary pursuit, not a human right.

This certainly is a nuanced and interesting issue and of course I support inclusive and progressive policies, but we progressives pride ourselves on our reliance on scientific fact and hard evidence for our positions and to pretend the CAS ruling is anything resembling fair is ignorant.

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