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Caster Semenya Returns to Compete; Petition to the International Olympic Committee Regarding Intersex Athletes

April 18, 2010

In a statement posted late last month, Caster Semenya, the South African runner and world champion announced her plans to return to competition, despite the IAAF’s refusal to release the results of her “gender tests”, citing a violation of her rights through their quest to police and “determine her sex”:

Since my victory in the female 800 meter event at the Berlin World Championships in August last year, I have been subjected to unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being. Some of the occurrences leading up to and immediately following the Berlin World Championships have infringed on not only my rights as an athlete but also my fundamental and human rights including my rights to dignity and privacy … This information has also been placed in the hands of the IAAF. I am of the firm view that there is no impediment to me competing in athletics competitions. I will however continue to assist the IAAF with whatsoever they may require for their own processes and in this regard I have instructed my legal and medical team to work closely with, and continue negotiation with them for these purposes. I hereby publicly announce my return to athletics competitions. My coach, agent and I will work closely together to identify and prepare for a limited number of athletics meetings over the course of the coming athletics season.

The Guardian UK has some background on this most recent development here.

In related news, and partially in response to Semenya’s situation, The Intersex Initiative recently posted about the International Olympic Committee’s recommendations regarding intersex athletes, concluding:

An increase in education and awareness is certainly welcome, but it appears that IOC is overstepping its role as an athletic authority when it prescribes recommendations for how athletes’ medical conditions should be managed or treated.

Further, those involved in the process have been quoted in the media that their view is that athletes with intersex conditions should be allowed to compete if they are being treated for them, establishing a new requirement that only applies to intersex athletes (that is, other athletes could follow or refuse medical advice without fear of being disqualified by the IOC).

Intersex activist and writer Hida Viloria has written a petition demanding OIC to stop excluding and stigmatizing intersex athletes, which can be found here.

For more analysis about the Caster Semenya story, check out
this article at Transgriot and another one at Questioning Transphobia.

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