Is South African Runner Caster Semenya Really A Man?

Is Caster Semenya a woman who looks like a man, or a man posing as a woman? There is controversy surrounding the 18-year-old South African runner who many want to submit to a gender verification test due to her muscular and manly physique. Semenya is a favorite in today’s 800 final at the world championships, and currently, the International Association of Athletics Federations sees no reason not to let her compete.

The general manager of Athletics South Africa denies the claims, saying, “She is a female. We are completely sure about that and we wouldn’t have entered her into the female competition if we had any doubts.” Meanwhile, Semenya’s coach told a South African news website that the accusations aren’t completely inappropriate:

“We understand that people will ask questions because she looks like a man. It’s a natural reaction and it’s only human to be curious. People probably have the right to ask such questions if they are in doubt. But I can give you the telephone numbers of her room-mates in Berlin. They have already seen her naked in the showers and she has nothing to hide.

Provided Semenya is, in fact, a woman, I feel bad for her. She’s only a teenager and is getting very publicly called out for looking too masculine. While some people seem to think she was formerly a man, others believe she might suffer from a rare condition in which individuals have both male and female chromosomes. But then what? Should she be forbidden from competing for having genes that give her an advantage? If that’s the case, shouldn’t Michael Phelps and his abnormally big feet be escorted out of the pool immediately? [ESPN, Daily Mail]