Gender Testing in Sport

Gender testing was something that occurred regularly for women’s sport in the Olympics up until 2000. It is a logical assumption that this was done to make sure that there were no men participating falsely as women at the Olympic games. While this may been seen as a way to make sure there is an even playing field for that athletes, what it not taken into account is how this testing effects the athletes. Caster Semenya, the middle distance runner for South Africa is a perfect example of this. She was 18 years old when she won the 800-meter race at the 2009 World Championships; she was then subjected to a gender test mainly on the basis of her appearance. News of the testing was leaked and she was subjected to being bullied by newspapers as well as others. Many news outlets posted stories of her being a ‘hermaphrodite’ and making cruel remarks about her appearance. I find it disgusting that someone would torment another person like this let alone an18 year-old that had done absolutely nothing to provoke this. In spite of the negativity being thrown at her, Caster’s family and country have stuck by her and are constantly supporting her.

Another example of this was the Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwan. In the summer 2012 Olympics she set a record time and even beat the men’s winner Ryan Lochte’s time. Instead of being praised for being an amazing athlete she was automatically accused of doping, and when she was declared clean, the accusations then moved to her having ‘manly characteristics’. She was 16 when she won the gold metal, and instead of being celebrated she to had to defend herself. The coaches of the other teams and mainly the U.S. coach called for her to have her gender tested adding further insult. Again, news outlets remarked on her appearance and that being a woman she should not have been able to beat Ryan Lochte’s time.  What some people seem to forget is that these are other humans, they just so happen to be exceptional athletes. Just because they won in such a spectacular way, does not mean it is okay to treat them in such a brutal fashion.

I think in this day and age that gender testing is not something that should be relied on during sporting events. With the new technology and training techniques constantly being developed I am not surprised that the athletes are becoming better in every aspect. If gender testing does continue to be used at these events absolute discretion is needed. Although in the case of Ye Shiwan she was not tested, the governing bodies should have protected both Caster and Ye. Being under that kind of scrutiny for something that is out or their control is absolutely unfair.

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2009/sep/11/caster-semenya-hermaphrodite-reports-iaaf

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/02/swimmer-ye-shiwen-declining-superpowers

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One Response to Gender Testing in Sport

  1. melilloanthony1 says:

    I definitely agree with you in that athletes should have their information kept confidential and discrete when conducting gender testing in the Olympics. The way Ye’s information surrounding this issue was spread is not something that should continue going forward as our society moves towards changing these policies for the better. It should be reviewed and adjusted so that all athletes of different sexes are treated equally.

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