Past Issues

South-African Olympic Gold medalist Caster Semenya has been questioned for her sexual identity since the World Championships in 2009. She was subjected to gender verification testing ever since and has recently been excluded from international competition. The female athlete is only allowed to keep competing if she agrees to take medication to lower her naturally high testosterone levels. The treatment of Semenya’s case was justified on the basis that sport governing bodies are trying to ensure a level playing field. To what extent can the decision to discriminate and exclude an individual promote fair play? Should human rights not come before segregating categories in competition? This article will demonstrate how the female athlete’s discrimination was shaped by the “fair-play-ensuring” categorization of sports, by the sexist differentiation between ‘genetic gifts’ and ‘unfair performance advantages’, and by the white notion of femininity.

Keywords: genetic gifts; fair play; human biological diversity; ethics; natural advantages; differences of sexual development; sports gene

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