Women barred from Olympics for being ‘manly’
Running: One day, Annet Negesa was pushing her body to endure and make her the champion she believed she was born to be. On another day, her Olympics dreams were crushed because she was faster, stronger.
Annet Negesa reportedly still harbours intentions to run for her country. She runs every day, with the hope of returning to international competitions one day.
Hers is a case of unfinished business, a dream that was cut short in June 2012 when she received a call from a doctor from track and field’s world governing body telling her, according to the New York Times newspaper – that “she would no longer be competing in the London Olympics because her testosterone levels were too high for competition,” thereby giving her an unfair advantage over other female athletes.
Negesa, 20 then, was one of Uganda’s top athletes. On the back of her London preparations, she set a national record for 800 metres earlier that year at a meet in Netherlands. She was a three-time national champion and brought home a gold medal at the 2011 All-Africa Games.
She identifies as female and was born with external female genitalia but also with internal male genitalia that produce levels of testosterone that men do. Most women, including elite female athletes, have natural testosterone levels of 0.12 to 1.79 nanomoles per litre, according to World Athletics. The typical male range after puberty is reportedly much higher, at 7.7 to 29.4 nanomoles per litre.
After years of litigation, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in 2019 upheld World Athletics’ testosterone restrictions for female athletes in races with distances from 400 meters to the mile after renowned athlete Caster Semenya (we shall get to her later in the article), filed an appeal.