Caster Semenya's tests not definitive - expert

2011-03-10 13:02
The case Caster Semenya's gender testing by the IAAF could have been handled better. (AP)

The case Caster Semenya's gender testing by the IAAF could have been handled better. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - Genetic gender testing cannot provide definitive answers for determining the whether athletes will have a competitive advantage, an expert has said.

"It's difficult to say if someone is male or female in terms of functional advantage. There are many considerations. The Caster Semenya case has implications for ethics in sport, but also how genetic medical literacy is needed not only for professionals, but also in the public arena," specialist in genetics at the University of Cape Town Dr Ambroise Wonkam told News24.

Wonkam said that individuals may present a wide variety of conditions that make an absolute determination difficult and medical science was not yet able to provide definitive answers about gender issues at the elite sport level.

He made his remarks at the Joint International Conference of African and Southern African Societies of Human Genetics at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Wednesday where he criticised those involved in the Semenya case.

"The IAAF started an investigation which was not respectful of Semenya."

Travesty

Semenya won a gold medal in the 800m at the 2009 World Championships, but was soon subject to questions about her eligibility to compete in the women's race. Speculation around the results of her gender has been rife, although the results have not been officially released.

According to Wonkam, the gender testing by the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) was a travesty and could have been handled better.

"Political fractionalisation added fuel to this controversy. Everybody was informed, but Caster, and it's just not imaginable that a doctor will do a test without counselling and confidentiality. Officials need proper information as well as the media," he said.

Gender testing in sport began at the 1966 European Athletics Championships because officials suspected that the best athletes from Eastern bloc countries were actually men. The tests were rudimentary in that athletes had to strip down for an official to perform a physical examination.

Genetic testing was introduced two years later at the 1968 Olympic Winter Games in Grenoble, but Wonkam said such testing is more complicated that checking for chromosomes.

"We are not yet knowledgeable enough to give clear-cut answers. It's a legal, social, physical and functional issue. In some cases we don't even know how the cases [of gender differences] show up," he said.

While the actual medical results of Caster Semenya's gender testing has not been made public despite speculation, Wonkam said that all procedures would have to be revised.

"The IAAF will be forced to revise all their procedures. For Caster it was an unfair prejudice."


- Follow Duncan on Twitter
- News24
Read more on:    iaaf  |  caster semenya  |  research  |  genetics
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
9 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Hottie of the day: Nicole Meyer!

Nicole is the cover girl for the 2014 edition of SA Swimsuit! Check out some smoking hot pics of here here.

 
 

Men24.com

11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!
This is how the Top Gear presenters spend their £55 million!
Thirty and still single? There’s hope!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The Moon has moved into your sign, emphasizing the need to connect things to work together. There is a tendency to focus too far...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.