Namibian track and field stars Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, both aged 18, have turned in four of the top five women’s 400m times in the world this year.
They were on a fast-track to Olympic medals, but then their stellar rise came to a sudden halt.
The pair have been banned from competing in the women’s 400m race at the Tokyo Games. The reasoning: their natural testosterone levels are too high.
The teenagers were both racing at international events when they learned the news.
Christine Mboma was with the duo’s coach, Henk Botha, travelling back to their training camp in Italy. When their plane landed, Botha received a call from Namibia’s Olympic Committee relaying the news. By the time he was able to call Beatrice Masilingi, his other trainee, she had already found out from social media.
The revelation came as a shock to both athletes. Neither of them had been tested before, and they had no reason to think their hormone levels were not within the typical range.
It is not the first time female runners have faced this problem. In 2018, Caster Semenya was banned from competing after World Athletics ruled that “to ensure fair competition, women with high natural testosterone levels must take medication to reduce them to compete in middle-distance races”.
But asking someone to take medication to alter something in a body they are happy with is controversial.
“I would ruin the way my body develops because that’ll be something that rearranges everything, how my body functions and everything,” says Masilingi.
“I wouldn’t want to involve any other things because this is the way my body functions in its normal way. And if I try something else, I might get caught somewhere else, and something might go wrong with my body.”
Beatrice Masilingi is concerned about artificially changing her natural hormone balance
Testosterone is a driver of red blood cell count, and the more red blood cells a person has, the more oxygen they can carry to their muscles, allowing them to run faster for longer amounts of time.
Men typically have higher testosterone levels than women, which is one of the reasons why, on average, they outperform women in athletic competition. And if people take testosterone as a performance-enhancing drug, they will generally perform better, says Dr Richard Holt, professor in diabetes and endocrinology at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton.
Research shows, however, that if you take a group of elite male athletes, all with varying testosterone levels, the ones with higher levels of the hormone do not necessarily perform better than those males with lower levels.
Dr Holt says the same is true of elite female athletes, which is why testosterone cannot be the whole story when it comes to athletic performance.
“There are a number of genetic polymorphisms, slight changes in the genes, that will actually determine whether somebody has that innate ability to be able to compete at the elite level,” he explains.
The problem, though, is where to draw the line between a testosterone advantage and other natural, genetic advantages.
, The author of Sporting Gender, Joanna Harper argues: “If you’re going to pick one advantage to separate the two categories [female and male], you want to pick an advantage that one group has that the other doesn’t. And you pick a biomarker that is widely divergent in the two groups.”
There had to be a line of demarcation at some point, and unfortunately Mboma and Masilingi were on the wrong side.
Harper, a transgender athlete herself, says: “It’s not an elegant solution by any stretch of the imagination, but it places fairly minimal restrictions on people… It’s not elegant, but it’s not, to my mind, horribly unreasonable either.”
Kenyan runner Margaret Wambui says athletics needs a third category beyond men and women.
World Athletics does not attempt to argue that Mboma and Masilingi, and other female athletes with high testosterone levels, are not women.
“We are committed to fairness for women in sport and reject any allegation that biological limits in the female category are based on race or gender stereotypes,” they told Tidesports source in a written statement.
“On the contrary, they provide an objective and scientific measure to define the female category, and are a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of attaining what both the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Swiss Federation Tribunal agreed was a legitimate objective.”
But for these two teenagers, a legal ruling on their womanhood is very personal.
“We all come from different areas and are raised differently. It’s just different. We are all created differently, with different purposes. So you can’t compare me with someone else. It’s really unfair,” says Masilingi.
As of now, the young women are not going to take legal action against World Athletics, but they will fight for their right to race.
“We won’t be quiet,” Masilingi concludes. “I’ll say the support system is very strong at the moment. There is a lot of it going on… It’s all over the world and seeing people against this rule and everything, which really means a lot. The love, the coaches, and everyone, it’s just good.”
Reps Summon Dare Over Doping Crisis At Tokyo
The House of Representatives has begun investigation of the disqualification of Nigerian athletes at the 2020 Olympics over alleged doping, asking the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, to come and explain the preparedness of the Nigerian contingent for the sports festival.
Tidesports source gathered that the resolutions followed the unanimous adoption of a motion at the plenary on Wednesday titled, ‘Need to Investigate Activities of the Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development on Failed Doping Test by Nigeria Athletes at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.’
Consequently, the House resolved to “invite the Minister of Sports and Youth Development (sic) to brief the Committee on Sports on the level of Nigeria’s compliance with extant regulations set by the International Association of Athletics Federations and the independent anti-doping arm, Athletics Integrity Unit.”
The House also urged the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to put necessary measures in place to ensure compliance with extant regulations at both local and international competitions, while mandating the Committee on Sports to “investigate the immediate and remote cause of the failed doping test to forestall future occurrence.”
Moving the motion, Mr Babatunde Ayeni said the Nigerian delegation to the Olympic Games fared well in terms of performance, thereby raising the country’s rating in the comity of nations.
Ayeni recalled the outstanding performance of the Nigerian Football Team which bagged the historic first soccer gold medal at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, United States of America.
The lawmaker lamented the incident of July 20, 2021, where the Athletics Integrity Unit of the International Association of Athletics Federations barred 10 Nigerian athletes, including the highly-rated Blessing Okagbare, from the Tokyo Olympics for failing to meet requirements for out-of-competition drug testing.
He recalled that the Athletics Integrity Unit alleged that Okagbare, who won the opening heat of the Women’s 100 meters, had tested positive for human growth hormone.
“The House is also aware that the allegation further affirmed that the affected athletes failed to comply with the rules requiring those from countries deemed to be at high risk of doping to undergo three no-notice out-of-competition tests in a 10 months’ period leading up to a major event.
“The House is concerned that despite the huge funds being made available yearly for the regulatory agencies in the sports sector, adequate efforts have not been made to get Nigeria into the category where they would be deemed to have made significant improvements in anti-doping tests,” Ayeni added.
NYG: Rivers B’Ball Team Intensifies Preparations
Coach of the Rivers State Male Basket-ball Team, Dagogo Okumgba, has said that preparation, are in top gear for the forthcoming 2021 edition of the National Youth Games (NYG)scheduled to hold in Ilorin, Kwara State.
Coach Okumgba disclosed this yesterday during an exclusive interview with Tidesports in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the team is doing everything necessary to get a better outing in Ilorin when the chips are down, saying that the players are in high spirits and are poised to compete favourably when the competition gets underway.
The coach said his players are committed to their preparations for the task ahead and determined to do the state proud at the games come November this year.
“We are doing our part to prepare as a team and wait for a go ahead from the Sports Ministry for camping so as to further prepare and fortify on the earlier made preparation,” Okumgba added.
The team qualified from their zone at the recently concluded zonal elimi-nation for team sports ahead of “National Youth Games” coming up next month.
It would be recalled that the zonal elimination for team events which comprised Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Edo states took place in Asaba, Delta State, fortnight ago.
The date for the competition was earlier fixed for September 7 to 17 this year.
10 Athletes To Represent Nigeria At Winter Olympics
Following the successful completion of its inaugural Olympics Trials in Lagos last Saturday, the Bobsled and Skeleton Federation of Nigeria has stated that 10 athletes would represent Nigeria at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Games.
Technical Director, BSFN, Dr. Seun Adigun disclosed this in Lagos.
“Ten athletes will be named for the Winter Olympics.
“We will have two athletes for Bobsled, two in the Monobob women’s team, two athletes for the Bobsled men’s team, two male Skeleton and two female Skeleton athletes for the national team,” Adigun, who played a key role in Nigeria’s debut at the last Winter Olympics Games in Pyeongchang, Sourh Korea, said.
President, BSFN, Solomon Ogba stated that the team would train on ice in Europe, ahead of the Winter Games.
“This is the first stage of the preparation for the Olympics before the athletes train on ice,” Ogba said.
History was made earlier in the year when six athletes, who were selected from the first-ever trials in Lagos, trained and participated on ice for the first time in Pyeongchang.
Tidesports source reports that after a few days of training on ice, Perpetua Nwanna and Alawode Sekinat won bronze medal in their debut competition, after finishing third in the women’s double Bobsleigh IBSFSliding Korea Cup.
- News5 days ago
Shell Recommits To Research, Dev In Nigeria
- Sports5 days ago
Championship: Muaythai Federation Appeals For Support
- Sports5 days ago
Infantino Reveals How Nigeria Can Host FIFA Competitions
- Sports5 days ago
Why NFF Must Offset Rohr’s Salaries, Bonuses – Aikhomogbe
- Sports5 days ago
Udi Wants Ex-S’Eagles To Coach NPFL Teams
- Sports5 days ago
Ogunsakin, Mubarak Hit Finals At Sapetro Futures Tennis
- Sports5 days ago
Coordinator Okays Youth Basketball Festival
- Politics5 days ago
Presidency Lists Beneficiaries Of External Borrowing Plan