A Debate Over This Athlete’s Testosterone Levels Could Redefine the Olympics

Middle-distance runner and world champion Caster Semenya might redefine the 2016 Olympics this month. The South African athlete could potentially win the gold medal at the 800 meter event and break a world record. But some are wondering if her competing in women’s events breaks Olympic rules.

By Madison Margolin | MOTHERBOARD

The controversy is rooted in speculations as to whether Semenya is intersex, a fact she never verified. She’s always said she’s a woman, and her birth certificate says she’s a woman. Still, the question has turned into a humiliating public debate over the athlete’s genitalia.

Some have called her hyperandrogenous, suggesting that her body produces extra testosterone. The International Association of Athletics Federations, which oversees track and field, has rules that limit the acceptable amount of testosterone a female athlete can produce if she wants to compete.

According to these rules, a suspected hyperandrogenous female athlete would have to undergo a three-stage medical evaluation to see whether or not she has extra testosterone that may give her an unfair advantage over athletes. In the case that she does have extra testosterone, the Federation would want her to have it lowered through medications like Spironolactone, along with external estrogen.

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