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Caster Semenya: ‘Athletics chiefs thought I had a d— so I offered to prove I didn’t’ 

Semen also proclaimed that artificially lowering her testosterone levels to compete was ‘like stabbing yourself with a knife every day’ 

Caster Semen is a two-time Olympic 800 metres champion and poster girl for athletes with differences in sex development (DSD)

Caster Semen has accused athletics chiefs who “thought I had a dick” of forcing her to take medication that “tortured” her and made her so sick she feared she would have a heart attack.

In an explosive interview with HBO Real Sports, the two-time Olympic 800 metres champion and poster girl for athletes with differences in sex development (DSD)proclaimed artificially lowering her natural testosterone levels in order to compete in women’s races was “like stabbing yourself with a knife every day”. 

The South African star also revealed that when doubts about her gender first emerged after she won her first world title aged just 18, she offered to show officials her genitals to prove she was female.

“They thought I had a dick, probably,” she said. “I told them: ‘It’s fine. I’m a female, I don’t care. If you want to see I’m a woman, I will show you my vagina. All right?’

After Semen underwent medical testing, it emerged she had been born with internal testes.

She was told that in order to continue running in women’s races, she would need to take medication to lower her natural testosterone levels.

‘I didn’t know if I was going to have a heart attack’

She said: “It made me sick, made me gain weight, panic attacks, I don’t know if I was ever going to have a heart attack. It’s like stabbing yourself with a knife every day. But I had no choice.

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“I’m 18, I want to run, I want to make it to [the] Olympics, that’s the only option for me. But I had to make it work.”

Jonathan Taylor, World Athletics’ lawyer, disputed that the medication given to Semen and others was unhealthy.

He told the programme: “You say, medically, it’s not healthy for me, then my question back to you is: ‘Why do the world’s leading experts say that that is what we would prescribe?’

But Semen hit back: “Jonathan must cut his tongue and throw it away. If he wants to understand how that thing has tortured me, he must go and take those medications. He will understand.”

Semen, now 31, took the medication for several years before lodging a legal challenge against rules currently governing races taking place over distances between 400m and a mile.

South Africa’s runner Caster Semenya, current 800-meter Olympic gold medalist and world champion, arrives for the first day of her hearing at the international Court of Arbitration for Sport, CAS, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. Semenya has filed an appeal in the CAS against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruling, forcing female runners to medicate to reduce their testosterone levels for six months before racing internationally. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)

After unsuccessful appeals at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court, she was unable to defend the Olympic titles she won in London and Rio at last year’s Tokyo Games.

She is currently awaiting a hearing at the European Court of Human Rights and, in the meantime, has been competing across longer distances, clocking a personal best time of 8min 54.97secs over 3,000m in March.

In a scathing Twitter post days later, she wrote: “So according to World Athletics and its members, I’m a male when it comes to 400m, 800m, 1500m and 1600m.

“Then a female in 100m, 200m, and long-distance events. What a research. What kind of a fool would do that?”

World Athletics recently confirmed it would not be changing its regulations allowing DSD and transgender athletes to enter women’s events if they lowered their testosterone.

That was despite reviews being launched in both swimming and cycling following an outcry over similar rules permitting trans athletes Lia Thomas and Emily Bridges to switch from competing against men.

Author: Okunlola Kayode. F

Okunlolacharles2020@gmail.com

Lagos, Nigeria

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