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Caster Semenya

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Caster Semenya

Postby Kermit » Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:27 pm

Just before I went to meet with my first client today I noticed a tweet about Semenya and it didn't look very good. There was no link to this tweet, but I have now found the link and what I am reading does not bode well.

"Preliminary medical tests on Caster Semenya, the 18-year-old South African at the centre of a gender row, have recorded elevated levels of the male hormone testosterone"

"..... the head coach of the South African team is Dr Ekkart Arbeit, the former East German coach who was accused by a female athlete of giving her so many anabolic steroids that she was forced to undergo a sex-change operation and live the rest of her life as a man"

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/others ... evels.html
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Postby Geoff » Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:59 pm

I recently read an article reporting Semenya's former coach as saying Arbeit knew about her being hermaphrodite and suggested medication to reduce her testosterone levels. Of course, this could be untrue and a former jealous coach trying to stir things but when I saw the name Arbeit I felt a little uneasy about this matter.

The IAAF handled this really badly but many in South Africa believe their own federation could and should have done better. And it should be noted that the protests to the IAAF about her gender were made at the African Youth Games some 4 or 5 weeks ago.

This should have been resolved in a far less public way in South Africa without the hysteria and ignorance that is apparent at the moment. Semenya should not have been so humiliated in public.
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Postby jjimbojames » Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:06 pm

I'm confused - to me, that report appears to be suggesting she's a woman who's been doping - yet the IAAF have said they don't think that's the case :?

Steve Cram said on the Beeb yesterday that they wouldn't be taking her medal off her if it turns out she had a hormone imbalance - but surely would if this was a doping case :?:

Complete balls-up from the start - an 18 year old is being used as a pawn by both sides
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Postby SteveK26 » Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:26 pm

I come back to my basic gut feelings on this issue. Yes I feel a certain sympathy towards Semenya's treatment. But I cant help feeling a little cynical with regard to her performances. I felt the same way when I used to attend major champs in the seventies and eighties-along with most other fans on the trips.How can you applaud the perfomancies of Kratochvilova Fibingerova Koch Flo-Jo the entire Chinese distance team and a host of others when you suspect them to be not entirely pukka for one reason or another.?
Innocent until proven guilty I know but not all above were found guilty as such but nobody believes them to be innocent do they?
I doubt we've heard the last of this.
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Postby Geoff » Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:40 pm

I don't think this is a doping issue as such. There are inter-sex conditions that could explain elevated testoserone levels and yet the athlete can still be regarded as female. However, rules of the sport require there to be no male oriented advantage and this is where she could have a problem.

The other thing about the Arbeit comment about reducing testosterone levels is that it is. I believe, allowed under IAAF rules but has to be so for a period of time and obviously monitored. It is possible for a man to undergo a sex change and providing all traces of masculine advantage are removed through medication etc she can compete as a female athlete.

As the IAAF said this is a very complex issue. There can be a difference between being legally a female and being female under sports rules. This is why Nick Davies in his ill advised interview said there could be legal issues.

Still don't like Arbeit involved though!
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Postby Geoff » Mon Aug 24, 2009 11:20 pm

Tony ward in his latest blog has breaking news regarding another athlete:

Breaking News
The IAAF today said that it had requested the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) to test Usain Bolt to ascertain that he was human. This followed rumours and innuendos from fellow athletes and their coaches that the Jamaican was, in fact, an alien being. “These performances are out of this world,” said one sprinter. “The guy aint human,” said another. “I mean he runs faster than I drive,” said the grandmother of another 200 metre finalist.

“We have had to act,” said an IAAF spokesman. “What has clinched it for us are persistent reports from Jamaica that on 21 August 1986 a UFO was spotted hovering over the village of Trelawney. NASA tells us that verification of Bolt’s status may take between 3000 and 5000 years owing to the number of planets from which he could have arrived. We’re prepared to be patient. This is a very sensitive issue especially for the athlete and his family. If it is proved that he is an alien then we’d be happy to submit full verification of his times in Berlin to the relevant association on whatever planet.”

When questioned on this possibility Bolt stared very hard at his interrogator who promptly melted away on the spot. He laughed off suggestions that he was the forerunner of a number of aliens being sent to earth to eradicate present world records in preparation for a takeover of the planet.

Kenenisa Bekele was unavailable for comment.

http://tonyward-trackchat.blogspot.com/
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Postby sidelined » Mon Aug 24, 2009 11:26 pm

There's an interesting piece here on the science of the subject:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/au ... er-semenya

It's obvious from the various newspaper reports that this is how she has been her whole life. I don't think anyone has been giving her steroids - it would be far too blatant. Steve, I don't think any suspicion attaches to her. The IAAF have undoubtedly handled the situation badly but I think the South African Federation are also to blame for putting her in this situation. They must have known what was going to happen. They should have resolved the issue before they let her compete on the international stage.
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Postby sidelined » Mon Aug 24, 2009 11:41 pm

Here's another article that fills in Semenya's background:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/au ... ics-gender

What she is being put through is absolutely horrendous.

Some people are pointing out that all outstanding athletes have exceptional genetic gifts. Does being six foot four, or whatever she is, give Blanca Vlasic an unfair advantage over other women, for example? It's an interesting argument, but I don't think I'd take it that far.
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Postby SteveK26 » Tue Aug 25, 2009 10:15 am

Sidelined
I never believed that the problem with Semenya was a doping one;my feeling is that she is competing against other girls with some sort of biological advantage in terms of 'natural' testosterone. It may not be her fault and I do feel she has been treated very shabbily but is she a fair rival to the other girls?
She will likely take the 800 and probably 1500 world records out of site at her current rate of improvement.
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Postby lsabre » Tue Aug 25, 2009 10:29 am

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Postby Slojo » Tue Aug 25, 2009 11:18 am

Even among the 'normal' population there is a wide variation in testosterone levels.
WADA knows this and has therefore set its limit at four times the normal average (it used to be six times).
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Postby Kermit » Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:07 am

This has just come to me & not via a newspaper.

Before reading from the link please note what the author says:-

"Please note that this is NOT an attempt at diagnosis of Semenya's case, and it does not represent my opinion on whether she has any condition of any sort. Unfortunately, the article was titled "What is Caster Semenya?", which kind of implies an opinion is coming. That is not the case.

Rather, it is meant to inform people of the basics, and maybe the complexities, of sex testing. If you read that article, and you're somewhat confused and bewildered at how complex it is, then you've started to appreciate the issue!

And, I dare say, you'll be a step or two ahead of those in South Africa who are steadfastly refusing to let facts confuse them, or get in the way of a story."

http://running.competitor.com/features/ ... menya_4836
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Postby shivfan » Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:46 am

Slojo wrote:Even among the 'normal' population there is a wide variation in testosterone levels.
WADA knows this and has therefore set its limit at four times the normal average (it used to be six times).


Would this mean that Semenya's levels are probably considered 'normal'?
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Postby Sotomayor » Thu Aug 27, 2009 11:51 am

There is probably a number of female athletes who have high testosterone levels but there just not giving the information out like sweets like in semenya's case!
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Postby Kermit » Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:54 pm

No doubt than when a new ruling is in place it will have her name on it - something like "Semenya's law", or "Semenya's therum"
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Postby SteveK26 » Thu Aug 27, 2009 6:15 pm

This whole scenario is a nightmare for all concerned--not least Semenya herself.Reading all your comments I can see wisdom and sense on both sides of the argument.I feel sorry for Semenya because if nothing else she is blameless,and I also would't choose to be a female 800 runner just now!!
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Postby hemlock » Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:33 pm

SteveK26 wrote:and I also would't choose to be a female 800 runner just now!!


I would love to be Jenny Meadows just now!
She is in the form of her life. Semenya won't be in the European Champs. Even if she was, Semenya is not obviously better now than PJ was last year, and JM thrashed PJ repeatedly this year, so who knows what can happen next year.
The British record is a much better target for JM than the WR, and with CS setting fast paces and JM finishing fast, it will be under threat.
If JM stays fit, it just looks like win/win for her.
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Postby SteveK26 » Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:07 pm

Hemlock
I love your optimism!Yes Jenny has had a wonderful year BUT I wouldn't give her any chance at all against Semenya, who let's face it will get better and better in all probability.
However you are right she has the Euros next year-- and I would love to see her win there.
What I meant about being an 800 runner wasn't just about medals though. This whole debate will keep coming up each time Semenya runs (unfortunately) taking the focus away from the races themselves.
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Postby hemlock » Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:37 pm

You could well be right. But I'm not so sure the performance issue is so different to that with PJ last year... and look what has happened there.
Indeed you might say that if PJ came back next year in 1:53 form, that would make things even harder for the rest of them. But I'm not sure it ever really works like that.
Someone else would find a way of jumping across the gap to the front two, then another, and so on.
We know the girls hadn't given up on catching PJ last year. Why on earth should they give up next year, now they _know_ she's only human. And that potentially drags a whole lot up close to Semenya's level.
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Postby eldrick » Sun Sep 06, 2009 8:16 am

none of the established 800 gals "kicked on" after pj's 1'54-flat last year into 1'56 territory let alone 1'55 or 1'54 this year - the best is 1'57+

without cs popping out of nowhere, this wouda been considered the poorest 800 season in 40y !

the standard in wc was truely awful & jm rode it to almost win

to replicate a silver next year is going to be infinitely harder - the ruskies & other east europenas tend to do better in that than in wc/og

personally, i don't see jm ever getting within 1/2s ever of kelly's record of 1'56.2 ( maybe not even within 1s ) & that will limit her

her problem is that she is only 5'1 & that just doesn't give her the physical tools to get into the 1'55s "naturally"
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Postby roseben » Sun Sep 06, 2009 10:01 am

Jelimo 2008

19 April 2.01.02, first ever 800m

30 April 1.58.70

25 May 1.55.76

1 June 1.54.99

18 July 1.54.97

18 August 1.54.87

29 August 1.54.01 7 seconds in 4 months :roll: :roll:

I bet all the other 800 metre gals must want to know how to run that fast and improve so vastly in a few months. Nobody expressed any surprise about Jelimo's phenomemal improvement last year.
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Postby Kermit » Sun Sep 06, 2009 12:44 pm

Hemlock's optimisim of a lack of form from Semenya could work similarly for Meadows, who is about to complete her third hard season in succession. As I have said before in a previous thread, next season our athletes on podium funding (which should include Meadows) should pick and choose their competitions very wisely instead of doubling up at the Commonwealth and Europeans.
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Postby hemlock » Sun Sep 06, 2009 1:09 pm

eldrick wrote:none of the established 800 gals "kicked on" after pj's 1'54-flat last year into 1'56 territory let alone 1'55 or 1'54 this year - the best is 1'57+

without cs popping out of nowhere, this wouda been considered the poorest 800 season in 40y !

the standard in wc was truely awful & jm rode it to almost win

to replicate a silver next year is going to be infinitely harder - the ruskies & other east europenas tend to do better in that than in wc/og

personally, i don't see jm ever getting within 1/2s ever of kelly's record of 1'56.2 ( maybe not even within 1s ) & that will limit her

her problem is that she is only 5'1 & that just doesn't give her the physical tools to get into the 1'55s "naturally"


re kicking on, for me the most disappointing one this year was Okoro (although I totally accept that this is through injury and no fault of hers).

re 40 years, yes, it has been a bit pathetic overall this year. Although I'm not sure the top ranked runner was clean in every single one of those previous 39 years...

I must admit I had JM marked down as the weakest of our top 3 (admittedly a very strong top 3, so this is no great criticism). I think I probably still feel the same - but what she has proved is that she has a very big heart, and has developed into a very good racer. I now think that, while fit, she will be a danger in every race she enters. The Russians will fear her next year. Believe it.

re being 5'1, you are going to have to explain that one! People used to say big men couldn't run fast, but I think we can put that one to bed now, can't we? Next up: "small women can't run long"? No. I think there is room in the same bed for that generalisation too.
...but I'm happy to listen to arguments otherwise.
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Postby BernardII » Sun Sep 06, 2009 1:50 pm

My friend is a steeplechaser and she can't be much taller than Jenny Meadows. :lol: She's won the trials for the European Juniors this year and holds the Scottish Junior Record for 2K and 3K S/C so it doen't seem to hold her back too much.
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Postby Sportsman29 » Sun Sep 06, 2009 7:02 pm

roseben wrote:Jelimo 2008

19 April 2.01.02, first ever 800m

30 April 1.58.70

25 May 1.55.76

1 June 1.54.99

18 July 1.54.97

18 August 1.54.87

29 August 1.54.01 7 seconds in 4 months :roll: :roll:

I bet all the other 800 metre gals must want to know how to run that fast and improve so vastly in a few months. Nobody expressed any surprise about Jelimo's phenomemal improvement last year.


I guess for me nothing really entered my mind about Jelimo being 'dodgy' is that i don't really believe we have seen just what the African aka Kenya and Ethiopian women can really do in the middle and long distance events. So far they are no where near the depth as on the mens side, where a whole grand prix 5k can be made up entirely of Kenyans. I think we have maybe only really scratched the surface of just what their women can do, for whatever cultural etc reasons not the same amount of women come through onto the international stage.

In a few years when the current African track stars move up towards the marathon, i believe they will take the event into standards we haven't yet seen.

Jelimo was young, and IMO perhaps just her natural naievety of the event, and perhaps her almost running blind of the event and just going for it created the super fast times we have seen from her.
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Postby SteveK26 » Sun Sep 06, 2009 8:14 pm

Roseben's comparison between the rate of improvement of Jelimo and Semenya being similarly spectacular is valid.However it the issue of physique with Semenya that sets them apart IMO. Has anyone ever heard her speak? If not why not?
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Postby Airsthom » Sun Sep 06, 2009 8:45 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffW5zeuPcds

video interview with CS after rounds in Berlin
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Postby jjimbojames » Sun Sep 06, 2009 8:47 pm

SteveK26 wrote:Roseben's comparison between the rate of improvement of Jelimo and Semenya being similarly spectacular is valid.However it the issue of physique with Semenya that sets them apart IMO. Has anyone ever heard her speak? If not why not?

Steve - do you mean Jelimo or Semenya? Semenya's interviews are all over the internet and you can hear Jelimo on a youtube vid or two.
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Postby mump boy » Sun Sep 06, 2009 9:41 pm

Sportsman29 wrote:
I guess for me nothing really entered my mind about Jelimo being 'dodgy' is that i don't really believe we have seen just what the African aka Kenya and Ethiopian women can really do in the middle and long distance events. So far they are no where near the depth as on the mens side, where a whole grand prix 5k can be made up entirely of Kenyans. I think we have maybe only really scratched the surface of just what their women can do, for whatever cultural etc reasons not the same amount of women come through onto the international stage.

In a few years when the current African track stars move up towards the marathon, i believe they will take the event into standards we haven't yet seen.

Jelimo was young, and IMO perhaps just her natural naievety of the event, and perhaps her almost running blind of the event and just going for it created the super fast times we have seen from her.


completely agree with this
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Postby usedtoit33 » Mon Sep 07, 2009 12:32 am

I'm not so sure. If either Jelimo or Semenya had been Russian, and showed the same level of progression that both have done in 2008 and 2009 then sceptics would be screaming about how dodgy both were. Just because they're from Africa, why do they get a free pass? Progression like theirs would be raising alarm bells for most hardcore fans.

I'm not saying either are dodgy. Both are obviously gifted runners. But East African expertise in endurance events goes back to the 60s. Mostly male-oriented, but their preparation and training is no less sophisticated than European or American.
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