There has been on-going controversy surrounding South African athlete Caster Semenya's right to compete, but this week the row has been reunited when Lynsey Sharp, our British athlete admitted tearfully after placing 6th in the Olympic 800m final that it was 'difficult' to race against her. Since then, she has faced a furious backlash and had all sorts of cruel jokes and abuse hurled at her for her comments, from people all over social media.
Semenya, who took gold in the final and set a new national record, has a condition called hyperandrogenism, which results in her having testosterone levels which are three times those of an average woman. The second and third place runners also have debatable testosterone levels, and are strongly believed to be suffering with the same condition.
Under previous law, when Caster was required to take testosterone-suppressants, she did not perform as well. Since the law was reformed, which allowed runners to avoid suppressants; She has been pretty much unbeatable.
How can people's heart not go out to Semenya? After all, she can't help the ability she was naturally born with, and is just trying to do what she loves. She has also been so violated in the past, having been subjected to all sorts of sex tests and having had her private issues shared publicly across the media.
Personally, I don't believe that anybody should have to take suppressive drugs which interfere with their natural body and could potentially carry side effects just in order to compete.
But people must equally, surely appreciate that this feels unfair for the athletes competing against her. Undeniably, if someone has testosterone levels that are three times the normal range for females and are competing in an athletic event against females, they have an advantage!
Testosterone is the very substance athletes who cheat or 'dope' put into their bodies in the form of anabolic steroids. If any of the other athletes were found to have artificially increased their testosterone levels to that of Semenya's, they would be disqualified.
If I was one of her rivals, and had dedicated my life to training, and made it as far as the Olympic final. I know I too would feel aggrieved. I would feel that no matter how hard I push myself into my best physical shape, no matter how my speed improves, these women would always be predisposed to run faster than me. I don't believe that any of the self-righteous internet campaigners spurting their cruel abuse wouldn't feel the same.
Lynsey Sharp was simply being honest, and speaking out for herself and the other athletes.
She did not personally attack Semenya, and I know she certainly didn't want to damn her.
She wasn't being a 'sore loser', or 'racist' or any of the other ridiculous comments I read. She was emotional and fatigued having just competed in the Olympic final, and as well as being unfairly probed by the media on a sensitive and controversial issue, she was merely stating the truth from the perspective of those directly affected.
I personally don't think it is fair for Lynsey or any of their other rivals, but my heart also goes out to Semenya. The world would be a nicer place if people could try to see things from more than one point of view.
But, unlike the bitter opinions I have seen plastered over social media, it is not Lynsey's comments that made me feel ashamed of Britain this week. It is the absolute disrespect that people have shown to our British athlete who just represented us in the 800m final. No matter whether you agree or disagree with what was said, insulting somebody's Olympic performance of which they have worked so hard for, in such a way that I have seen this week, is not the Olympic spirit.
I mean, I'm no expert in athletics, but you do have to question the sanity of the world when somebody makes the Olympic final and gets called a loser....
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