Paula Radcliffe wades into Semenya debate


July 23, 2016
South Africa's Caster Semenya crosses the finish line after winning the the women's 800m event at the Golden Gala IAAF athletic meeting, in Rome's Olympic stadium, on Thursday, June 2. (AP Photo)

Marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe said yesterday that comments she made concerning Caster Semenya have been misrepresented, after stating in a radio interview that the South African's current dominance in the 800 metres is "no longer sport."

Radcliffe said her remarks on Semenya being so dominant that she was expected to win the Olympic title next month were part of a longer live debate she took part in on the issue of hyperandrogenism in sport. Hyperandrogenism is a condition where a woman has much higher levels of testosterone than normal.

Semenya was ordered to undergo gender tests when she won the world title in 2009, and wasn't allowed to compete for 11 months after the tests.

This season, Semenya has been clearly dominant, and that superiority has come after the IAAF was forced to drop rules that limited testosterone levels in female athletes. Last week, Semenya ran a personal best and her fastest time since the 2009 world championships.

"I fear that when we talk about it in terms of fully expect no other result than Caster Semenya to win that 800 metres (at the Olympics), then it's no longer sport and it's no longer an open race," Radcliffe said in audio clips from the debate published by the BBC.

In the interview, Radcliffe also appeared to suggest hyperandrogenism could become similar to organised doping.

"I mean, we've seen the lengths that countries like Russia will go to to have major success on the world stage, on the Olympic stage. I think what worries me is we know that there are certain communities where the condition of intersex, of hyperandrogenism, is more prevalent," Radcliffe said.

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