Africa’s 800m Champion Women Athletes Speak Out Against World Athletics ‘High Testosterone Ruling’ By Cheryl Roberts

14 Sep

With black women athletes refusing to take prescribed medication to alter construction of their bodies, we acknowledge that the white men-dominated World Athletics sports federation hasn’t got control of its ambition to control black women’s bodies in athletics.Black women affected by the ‘higher testosterone ruling’ of World Athletics challenged global sport and have spoken out against their bodies being controlled and subjected to medication prescribed by men. Last week, a European-based court of arbitration for sport ruled in favour of the ‘higher testosterone ruling’ being supported. Some opinions and comments signed it off as ‘being the end’ of women athletes participating in athletics and ‘winning unfairly’. For the women athletes who emphatically became victims of this men-designed ‘higher testosterone ruling’, it was rejection of this ruling by World Athletics. The ‘higher testosterone ruling’ clearly impacted on at least three world class African women athletes: Caster Semenya of South Africa, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya. Semenya, Niyonsaba and Wambui finished first, second and third in the women’s 800m at the Rio Olympics. It was an African herstorical moment when the 800m medal Olympic Games medal podium was all about Africa’s women athletes. Then followed the horrendous attempts by World Athletics to control black women athletes’ bodies, especially athletes like world and Olympic champion Caster Semenya. The counter challenge was mounted and led by Caster Semenya on behalf of not only her body but all women’s bodies. She fought World Athletics in the court of arbitration and, although the court ruled in favour of World Athletics’s unjust, atrocious, vicious, inhumane ruling, Caster Semenya has refused to succumb to attempts to control her body. Caster Semenya reacted to the court of arbitration’s ruling declaring: ‘A man can change the rules but the very same man cannot rule my life’.But not only Caster Semenya has refused to accept men’s control of her body. So, too has sportswomen in world sport and Africa’s sportswomen. African sport hasn’t challenged enough, supported enough, spoken out enough against the ‘higher testosterone ruling’ of World Athletics. Actually, African sport has largely failed and disappointed Africa’s women athletes by actually complying with and impending the ‘higher testosterone ruling’.However, the young African 800m specialist athletes, who bestowed much pride on Africa when they medalled at the Rio Olympics, are fighting for control of not only their bodies but all girl and women athletes by refusing to acknowledge and accept the inhumane rulings of World Athletics. 
‘I will continue to fight for the human rights of female athletes, both on and off the track, until we can all run free, the way we were born’, said Caster Semenya.
Also speaking out against attempts to control women athletes’ bodies is Burundi’s world class 800m athlete Francine Niyonsaba. 
‘Young people in Africa look up to us. We have a responsibility towards them. Our struggle to run free is not only about us. It is also about the next generation. No matter how much you try to stop us, we will continue to run to keep their dreams alive’, said Francine Niyonsaba, 2016 Rio Olympics 800m silver medalist. Last year, Kenya’s Margaret Wambui said she refused to take medication to control the make-up of her body. She pleaded for positive intervention from Kenyan athletics, intervention that would support Africa’s women athletes and not support World Athletics vicious rulings. Africa’s 800m women athletes – Caster Semenya, Francine Niyonsaba and Margaret Wambui – are running in their lane on the global athletics track. They are challenging all who seek to control their bodies. What about African sport? Are we challenging strongly, supporting Africa’s sportswomen? 

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