The Caster Semenya case is a real Catch-22

Caster Semenya, after being disallowed to compete in professional athletics for her naturally high testosterone levels, has made the transition to women’s football.

She is currently training with a South African club with the hopes of playing for the team at the start of the next season.

But should she be allowed to compete, given that she still technically has the same competitive advantage?

In short, yes. The rules regarding testosterone levels in athletics require athletes who exceed the ‘maximum’ natural level to reduce their blood testosterone to a specific level for at least six months before a competition.

They must continue to maintain this, which Semenya refused to do. In my opinion, her involvement in her team sport somewhat nullifies the advantage that she has.

There are more factors in the success of a team than one individual, meaning that the success of JVW FC, Semenya’s new club, cannot simply be attributed to her presence. In an individual sport however, like track athletics, any advantage is plain and simple, and cannot be contested because only the individual in question can be held accountable to that.

No matter which way the case ends up hypothetically, there will always be some individuals or groups of people that suffer from the debates surrounding this issue. The case of Caster Semenya is a blessing and a curse for the world of athletics. As an avid track athletics fan myself, it is good to know that doping and standards of fairness and sportsmanship are maintained.

However, this does not justify the testosterone limit existing in the first place. It is perfectly valid to be skeptical of such advantages to combat doping in sports, but when it is proven that the abnormally high testosterone is natural, the rule, I think, should be waved. Yes, it is an unfair advantage, but Semenya being forced to literally alter her biology is equally unfair.

It is incredibly harrowing to realise that there is an inclusivity and acceptance issue. The case is a massive catch-22 that cannot be resolved fairly either way. 

Semenya’s transition to football will certainly be interesting to watch as it progresses in the future.


About Author

Sam Hewitson

Sam Hewitson

Travel Editor - 2019/20

Editor-In-Chief - 2020/21