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Thread: The case of the South African Runner

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    GS Supporter CoyoteChris's Avatar
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    The case of the South African Runner

    I heard about this case on National Public Radio this morning, but it has been going on a long time, if you read wiki.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caster_Semenya

    https://www.independent.co.uk/life-s...-a8874781.html

    The jist of the case is..."Do governing bodies of running sports have a right to make a female athlete take testosterone killing drugs if said athlete has naturally occuring
    T level over some agreed upon number?"

    I have read the arguments for and against the practice and have no strong feelings. I lean toward the no drug side. But as someone who is afflicted with hypogonadism and who takes T therapy, I know just how powerful the effect is.

    If a person is born tall and has long arms and good agility, they might accell at basketball...one certainly doesnt think they should be "shortened" . If this woman was born with the condition of High T, should she be penalized?
    What say you?

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    And she is not the only one. I think all three 800m Olympic/Worlds medalists (one Burundian and one Kenyan athlete) are in the same shoes... I don't know if and how that should be penalized tho, but knowing how lot of other stuffs are penalized too, maybe its fair to penalize it. Or just stop penalizing everything. And if some people want to sacriface their/athletes life for an Olympic medal (by using not common things to get there), thats their choice after all... Untill society realize there is more important things than winning and stop being obssesed with it...

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    I feel sorry for Caster Semenya. She is not guilty at all, but her SA federation is. I remember her competing in the beginning of her career, and I felt like a man was competing with females, including African descent athletes. She was not only built like a man, but had a deep male voice, much deeper than my husband. There is no way her coach and Federation didn't suspect anything. Honestly, although again I feel sorry for that, but all the results should be invalidated. Yes that is probably a natural condition. But why allow a certain level of testosterone in C. S. but ban any athlete taking a lesser amount of a similar/identical drug.

    I am sure C,S is not the only one with this case.

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    I am currently reading a book entitled "sports genes", and there is a chapter called "why men have nipples" in there that talks about the gender issue. Based on what I read and understand, defining gender is very difficult thus elusive given how much scientific knowledge we have now. For a certain number of female athletes (or surprisingly super models), they carry a rare type of mutation on their sex determination chromosome, called XXY. Typically they grow up as female (self identified), but have much slender body type and higher muscle to fat ratio, because of the elevated level of testosterone in their blood. Some would also have testes developed inside their body. The controversial thing is that the elevated level of testosterone does help a female athlete to run fast or jumper higher. Transgender athletes (converting from male to female) see significant drop of their performance while on hormone therapy, which is a known evidence. Nowadays I don't think athletes would want to release their genetic testing results if they are actually the XXY type. And knowing an athlete is of the XXY type does help validate or invalidate what she has achieved, because there is no official guideline (from the international Olympic committee) to handle such cases. But I do think this is different from the case of being tall or having long limbs.

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    GS Supporter CoyoteChris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sabrina View Post
    I feel sorry for Caster Semenya. She is not guilty at all, but her SA federation is. I remember her competing in the beginning of her career, and I felt like a man was competing with females, including African descent athletes. She was not only built like a man, but had a deep male voice, much deeper than my husband. There is no way her coach and Federation didn't suspect anything. Honestly, although again I feel sorry for that, but all the results should be invalidated. Yes that is probably a natural condition. But why allow a certain level of testosterone in C. S. but ban any athlete taking a lesser amount of a similar/identical drug.

    I am sure C,S is not the only one with this case.
    I saw on the news ticker today she lost her case....I still dont have strong feelings as its so complex. If the condition is the result of a medical condition, (I forget the condition's name) , or naturally occuring, its still a hard call.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/sp...inst-IAAF.html

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    GS Supporter CoyoteChris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ykai View Post
    I am currently reading a book entitled "sports genes", and there is a chapter called "why men have nipples" in there that talks about the gender issue. Based on what I read and understand, defining gender is very difficult thus elusive given how much scientific knowledge we have now. For a certain number of female athletes (or surprisingly super models), they carry a rare type of mutation on their sex determination chromosome, called XXY. Typically they grow up as female (self identified), but have much slender body type and higher muscle to fat ratio, because of the elevated level of testosterone in their blood. Some would also have testes developed inside their body. The controversial thing is that the elevated level of testosterone does help a female athlete to run fast or jumper higher. Transgender athletes (converting from male to female) see significant drop of their performance while on hormone therapy, which is a known evidence. Nowadays I don't think athletes would want to release their genetic testing results if they are actually the XXY type. And knowing an athlete is of the XXY type does help validate or invalidate what she has achieved, because there is no official guideline (from the international Olympic committee) to handle such cases. But I do think this is different from the case of being tall or having long limbs.
    It is very complex. And I agree that its not the same as being too tall but in One sense.

    Too Much Growth Hormone (Hyperpituitarism)
    Two conditions arise from excessive amounts of growth hormone in the body: acromegaly and gigantism.

    Acromegaly is a condition in adults that is caused by an increased secretion of the growth hormone after normal growth has stopped. It is very rare. Because adults cannot grow taller, the excess growth hormone in acromegaly causes an adult's bones to thicken and other structures and organs to grow larger.
    Gigantism occurs when there is an excessive secretion of growth hormone in children before their normal growth has stopped. This results in overgrowth of the long bones. In addition to vertical growth in height, there is also growth in muscle and organs. The result is a person who is very tall, with a large jaw, large face, large skull, and very large hands and feet.

    So if someone has gigantism, and would make an excellent basket ball player, is it fair to let them compete with others who are not afflicted? I have no answers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CoyoteChris View Post
    I saw on the news ticker today she lost her case....I still dont have strong feelings as its so complex. If the condition is the result of a medical condition, (I forget the condition's name) , or naturally occuring, its still a hard call.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/sp...inst-IAAF.html
    I think she's technically intersex, although the Times used the phrase 'differences in sexual development' or something like that. It's a tough one because it's not as if she doing anything wrong by just being herself, and now we're asking her to chemically alter her body to "fairly" compete.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducky View Post
    I think she's technically intersex, although the Times used the phrase 'differences in sexual development' or something like that. It's a tough one because it's not as if she doing anything wrong by just being herself, and now we're asking her to chemically alter her body to "fairly" compete.
    I have questions about competitors who were born with the athletic advantages of male physiology competing as women - and, man, is that a complex matter above my complete understanding...

    but I'm not so sure about this case. She was born just as she is physically. She's done nothing that anyone could remotely consider objectionable in terms of the generally accepted rules of sport. She has an inherent advantage in her natural state. That's not cheating.

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    GS Supporter CoyoteChris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducky View Post
    I think she's technically intersex, although the Times used the phrase 'differences in sexual development' or something like that. It's a tough one because it's not as if she doing anything wrong by just being herself, and now we're asking her to chemically alter her body to "fairly" compete.
    It is interesting that Old men such as myself have way too much of their T converted to estrogen, which is bad for them. But this is a normal part of dieing for old men, unless you are yea old Coyote in which case you take T suppliments.

    Estrogen Levels in Men
    While its importance is normally attributed to women, estrogen in men plays an important role. As teenagers, men have high levels of testosterone and low levels of estrogen. As they age, testosterone levels in men decrease while their estrogen levels increase. Not surprisingly, high levels of estrogen in men usually correspond to low levels of testosterone. High estrogen levels in men contribute to prostate cancer and heart disease as well as gynecomastia ( enlarged breasts). As the testosterone is transformed into estrogen the low levels of testosterone can cause many unpleasant symptoms including loss of muscle mass, fatigue, low libido, erectile dysfunction. Furthermore, excessive estrogen in men raises body fat and can contribute to diabetes and high lipids.

    Testosterone will begin to convert to estrogen in men as they age due to the aromatase reaction. Aromatase is found most prevalently in fat cells, so the more body fat a man has, especially in the midsection, the more aromatase and hence the more estrogen.

    The thing about women is that they dont use the aromatase process to make their needed Testosterone. They make it in glands.
    "But testosterone doesn't belong only to men. The hormone is also found in women, where it's manufactured in their ovaries and adrenal glands, though in much smaller amounts than in men."

    IIRC, the one of the disorders that could be affecting our runner is:
    "Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a disorder that directly affects the adrenal glands and the production of the body’s hormones. In many cases of CAH, the body overproduces androgen.

    Common symptoms of this disorder in women include:

    infertility, masculine characteristics, early appearance of pubic hair, severe acne"

    From what I recall, the runner was subjected to a sex test and was indeed found to be female. But if she suffers from CAH, it doesnt make her any less of a woman. But the disorder does give her an advantage in sports. Michael Phelps makes half the lactic acid that other athletes do...is this a disorder? I got nothin'.
    She didnt ask to have this disorder...I get that....but from the other athlete's point of view who compete against her, is this an "unfair" advantage due to a possible birth defect? I got nothin'

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    Quote Originally Posted by CoyoteChris View Post
    It is very complex. And I agree that its not the same as being too tall but in One sense.

    Too Much Growth Hormone (Hyperpituitarism)
    Two conditions arise from excessive amounts of growth hormone in the body: acromegaly and gigantism.

    Acromegaly is a condition in adults that is caused by an increased secretion of the growth hormone after normal growth has stopped. It is very rare. Because adults cannot grow taller, the excess growth hormone in acromegaly causes an adult's bones to thicken and other structures and organs to grow larger.
    Gigantism occurs when there is an excessive secretion of growth hormone in children before their normal growth has stopped. This results in overgrowth of the long bones. In addition to vertical growth in height, there is also growth in muscle and organs. The result is a person who is very tall, with a large jaw, large face, large skull, and very large hands and feet.

    So if someone has gigantism, and would make an excellent basket ball player, is it fair to let them compete with others who are not afflicted? I have no answers.

    Hi Chris, I am not trying to justify the ruling, but I was thinking in general man and women compete separately, and it is usually the case that the worst performing men in the top games are better than the best performing women. The gender effect (sex hormones) is so dominant that there is no other way to compensate. While for basketball games, players are not organized into groups of different height and compete within these groups. Height is a very important factor to make a successful basket player, but short players (not too short though) can also excel with other superior capabilities. The height factor is not dominant. Also as for running, it is an individual sport, the performance is totally tied to the individual body, so people tend to be more skeptical and focus on these issues and on a single athlete. While for basketball, everybody contributes, thus the team performance is not solely dependent on the height of individual players, and nobody would single out a player and make a case out of it.

    And again as I said before if one carries XXY gene mutation, no one/entity can determine the sex in a scientific/rigorous way, that's the hard part.

  11. #11
    GS Supporter CoyoteChris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ykai View Post
    Hi Chris, I am not trying to justify the ruling, but I was thinking in general man and women compete separately, and it is usually the case that the worst performing men in the top games are better than the best performing women. The gender effect (sex hormones) is so dominant that there is no other way to compensate. While for basketball games, players are not organized into groups of different height and compete within these groups. Height is a very important factor to make a successful basket player, but short players (not too short though) can also excel with other superior capabilities. The height factor is not dominant. Also as for running, it is an individual sport, the performance is totally tied to the individual body, so people tend to be more skeptical and focus on these issues and on a single athlete. While for basketball, everybody contributes, thus the team performance is not solely dependent on the height of individual players, and nobody would single out a player and make a case out of it.

    And again as I said before if one carries XXY gene mutation, no one/entity can determine the sex in a scientific/rigorous way, that's the hard part.
    Thanks! I finally have formed an opinion. National Public Radio in the US ran a story about this runner about a week ago. They allude that this person MAY have two testes which accounts for the testosterone and that she is refusing to have them removed or take the meds. It is my opinion that if this information is correct, then this person should not be allowed to compete as a woman.
    https://www.npr.org/2019/05/31/72840...ete-as-a-femal

    "Caster Semenya was raised as a female and is legally female. She's fighting rules that affect DSD athletes who have what are typically male XY chromosomes, who were born with internal testes and who have testosterone levels higher than the typical female range."
    "As for how the DSD athletes can suppress their testosterone, they have three choices: they can have their testes surgically removed; they can get a monthly injection that blocks testosterone; or they can take birth control pills."

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    Some news:

    "Runner Caster Semenya will be allowed to compete without having to take testosterone-reducing medication after a Swiss court ordered the International Association of Athletics Federations to suspend implementation of new regulations while Semenya's appeal is pending."
    https://edition.cnn.com/2019/06/03/s...ntl/index.html

    "Swiss court tells IAAF to suspend testosterone regulations
    Semenya can compete in 800m without medication to 25 June"

    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/20...rt-ruling-iaaf

    I still remember the furious Jennifer Meadows (bronze medal) after the victory of Semenya in Berlin 2009. Because of the disgusting attacks by the conservatives I was always on the side of Semenya. But I changed my mind, and think now also about the interests of women who compete with her.

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