Semenya Caster Update

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

It’s been leaked that world champion athlete, Semenya Caster, has returned abnormaly high levels of testosterone. Three times the “normal” level of a woman. While this is not  indicative of any abuse of performance enhancing drugs, it does prompt further testing.

Initially, I felt race played absolutely no role in the request for testing as there are plenty of documented examples of white female and male athletes suspected of and subsequently testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Of all steroids, testosterone is the grand daddy and it’s easier to mask detection because the hormone is naturally produced in the male and female body.

Interestingly enough, Semenya’s current track coach Ekkart Arbeit, has intimate knowledge of the effects of testosterone. He faced scrutiny and disgrace as a former East German track coach who was deeply involved in a elaborate, state sponsored, doping program that was revealed many years later. It resulted in world championships and olympic medal wins all throughout the 70s and 80 for the the Eastern Europeans. 

Almost overnight they were able to compete with the US and Russia on a level never before seen. In the process, many of the athletes lives were drastically and negatively effected by drug use and in some cases, lives were altogether ruined. Some of the more drastic side effects of  anabolic steroid use do not simply go away. They can lead to body changes that include the formation of male characteristics; deepending voice, facial hair, physique are all natural side effects of testosterone and anabolic steroid use.

The most widely known athlete from his former team is Heidi Krieger, now known as Andreas after under going a sex change. He trained under Coach Arbeit and was given large amounts of anabolic steriods from the age of 16.  He developed an adams apple, a deep voice and facial hair. He also began feeling like a man both mentally and physically. Coach Arbeit has worked his way to a respectful position within the South African Athletics Association, but his presense casts a dark shadow of doubt over an already sensitive situation wrought with insensitivity.

There has been NO reported evidence of any test result indicating that Semenya has used performance enhancing drugs. The results of her comprehensive gender test have not been officially released.

In fact, according to NY Daily News,  tests results aren’t supposed to be released unless a violation has occured or been announced by the International Association of Athletics Federations. Since they have provided no official release, someone on the inside has been leaking confidential information to the media. Where is the ethics, the morality in all of this?

I’m still not convinced that race is in play, but what I do know is that many people beleive it to be so. I understand their reasons, as two-fold as they may be, but I’m going to tackle the gender handle for now. The fact that the situation should have been handled 360 degrees differently is evident.  The IAAF admitted as much. Secondly, Semenya should have been presumed innocent until proven otherwise, which begs the question of why all the damn leaks. The lack of privacy, respect and dignity displayed from jump has made non-bias nearly impossible.

Thank God she has the support of her family and hometown, friends and former teammates. That says something about their view and possible acceptance of her sex and gender. I read a report that stated “she didn’t like boys growing up and never has.” I’m staying tuned for the official test results and what they will mean for Semenya’s bright future. Updates will follow.

Before I go, get this:

The IAAF was obliged to admit it was investigating the issue after Italian 800m finalist Cusma Piccione complained in Berlin that she had been “beaten by a man”.

I think the IAAF should order drug and testosterone testing on all of the amazon women out on the track field in that case. Even Michael Johnson will tell you, these cases are extreme, sensitive and unfortunately they are nothing new. Despite that, it’s my absolute hope that Semenya’s tests come back confirming what most who know her already believe to be true. She is a woman.




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