Not sure how many people here follow track and field at all, or if this story has worked its way outside track and field media to the mainstream. It seems I remember the "controversy" resulting in a story on yahoo news a couple weeks ago.
The World Championships of track and field were last month, and one of the most surprising results was that an entrant in the women's 800 meters, an 18 year old virtual unknown who has only been running for about a year and suddenly sprang upon the scene with world class times only this summer, upset the best women's half-milers in the world to easily win the World Championship gold medal going away, and coming close to a decades-old world record set by a Czech woman runner who herself was pumped up on steroids.
The accusation in this case is not performance enhancing drugs, but that this runner, Caster Semenya, may actually be a man. The unbelievably quick improvement from beginning runner to World Champion, as well as the individual's masculine appearance and mannerisms (chest-thumping, bicep-flexing, and so on) lead some to assert this runner may either be a man, or at least some sort of hermaphrodite or "intersex" individual with such strong male characteristics as to constitute an unfair advantage against women.
As an individual track and field fan, I'd say the way Semenya totally demolished the best female 800 runners in the world, running away from them with apparent ease and winning by a huge margin, bore no resemblance to fair competition among equals. It made Usain Bolt's victories in both last year's Olympics and these same World Championships seem hard-fought.
Counterbalancing the outcry of unfairness, there's been a near-equal riot of people asserting that the accusations are unfair. Some say gender is not an "either/or" thing but a sort of continuum, and if so, who is to determine at which point on the scale a person is "woman enough" to compete as a woman?
Most recently, this story says the runner has no ovaries or uterus, but does have testicles. This is in addition to the already-released information that Semenya has three times the level of testosterone level of average women.Tests show world champion runner Caster Semenya is a hermaphroditehttp://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/world/tests-show-world-champion-runner-caster-semenya-is-a-hermaphrodite/story-e6frev00-1225771726260
There have been numerous other stories in athletics of female competitors being revealed or "outed" as either actually male, or in some way "intersex." I think, despite the tendency toward political correctness in all areas, the reason we separate sports into men's and women's divisions is to give women a fair chance to compete among equals. If a person is born with male and female sex characteristics constituting something like "mostly male-ness" and yet chooses to live and compete as a woman, it is unfair. That individual has a choice whether to not compete at all, or compete at a slight disadvantage among men.
Any thoughts about this, aside from the inevitable snickers and wisecracks? Every time I feel this is just sort of an odd joke, I think about the women who train their hearts out, only to end up beaten by 30 meters by a teen-age beginner at their event, and to finish in second place when in fact they are the fastest woman in the race.