The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

CAS Needs to Get This Right

Jan 5th, 2019
7:45 am PST

Perhaps the most important decision for the sport this year, will be made in March when the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) makes a ruling on the Caster Semenya case. 

This matter has been ongoing for the better part of the 20-teens, with the IAAF ruling Semenya ineligible to compete because of testosterone levels much higher than those of women. Then CAS ruled, because of a suit brought by an Indian sprinter, that that decision was arbitrary and that proof need be shown that competing with higher testosterone levels is detrimental to others. The IAAF then coming back with more specific rules based on a study of the affect on performance of “elevated” testosterone. That’s my shortened abbreviated version of what’s taken place.

The two sides of the argument are both very strong in their opinions. Those that say Semenya has a huge advantage and shouldn’t be allowed to compete against women, and those that say that the levels are “natural” and “not Semenya’s” fault and therefore Semenya should be allowed to compete against women. Somewhere in the mix are those who fear defining women based on testosterone levels, and looking to see what it all means for transgender athletes. 

The bottom line is that a lot rests on the upcoming CAS ruling, and it goes far beyond Semenya.

My two cents for what it’s worth. First of all, if we’re ruling that doping is illegal, and we’re banning people because they enhance their testosterone (among other things) then we’ve already decided that testosterone advantages are not ok! The fact that having more than double “legally”, or  “naturally” (especially against women) should not change this opinion. If enhancements are wrong, then they’re wrong. If not, open up the flood gates!

Secondly, Semenya’s natural birth condition (intersex – bearing elements of BOTH) blurs the lines of womanhood. As does the transgender issue where one is born male, but then “converts” to female. The individual still has the make up of a boy/man genetically – and that can’t be erased. As such they have advantages physically over women that have  no male DNA, testosterone, etc.

I know that there is the attempt to be politically correct and please everyone, which is why the push by many to let Semenya compete. But what many deem “fair” to Semenya, other intersex athletes and transgenders is inherently unfair to “basic” women. Leaving them with no justice. And side note, I find it interesting that the idea of having intersex and transgenders compete against men is NEVER on the table! I’m assuming because it’s thought to just not be fair. Rather ironic. 

The ONLY decision that I see that is fair, is the creation of a new category of competition, where intersex/transgenders individuals can compete against each other. No different than we already have with handicapped individuals where the competition is even graded based upon ability/inability. This is the only way to satisfy the need for competition and to protect the inherent right of true born females. Who to date really have had no advocates in this matter. 

I’m my opinion, while many have been making this about Semenya, the role that CAS should be taking is as arbiter for all sport in this matter. And that means making a decision that both advocates for, and protects everyone! I hope they get it right.

One Response to “CAS Needs to Get This Right”

  1. Waynebo says:

    It’s good to see you back to posting coach. I hope your health remains well. The one good thing about having Semenya compete against the women: she has elevated the 800. I don’t believe Ajee Wilson would have run a 1:55 if she hadn’t been chasing Semenya. Wilson is right where Tyson Gay was in 2009. In her prime, running ridiculously fast, and chasing an athlete who appears unbeatable. That said, I know it’s much more complex than that and I hope the ruling can be fair to everyone involved.

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