In the WTH! Files:
The International Amateur Athletic Federation asked the South African athletic federation to conduct the gender test after Semenya burst onto the scene by posting a world-leading time of 1:56.72 in the 800 at the African junior championships in Bambous, Mauritius, on July 31. Her previous best was 2:00.58.
The test, which takes weeks to complete, requires a physical medical evaluation, and includes reports from a gynecologist, endocrinologist, psychologist, an internal medicine specialist and an expert on gender. Gender testing used to be mandatory for female athletes at the Olympics, but the screenings were dropped in 1999. One reason for the change was not all women have standard female chromosomes. In addition, there are cases of people who have ambiguous genitalia or other congenital conditions.
The most common cause of sexual ambiguity is congenital adrenal hyperplasia, an endocrine disorder where the adrenal glands produce abnormally high levels of hormones. “We condemn the motives of those who have made it their business to question her gender due to her physique and running style. Such comments can only serve to portray women as being weak,” the ANC said in a statement.
South African athletics federation president Leonard Chuene insisted Semenya is facing intense scrutiny because she is African.
“It would not be like that if it were some young girl from Europe,” Chuene told the AP by telephone. “If it was a white child, she would be sitting somewhere with a psychologist, but this is an African child.”
The Congress of South African Trade Unions said it “rejects with contempt the attempts by those who tried to undermine her success by raising bogus and groundless queries about her gender.” Huffington Post
There’s also an excellent article at The Nation with discusses the intersectionality of racism and gender bias in The Idiocy of Sex Testing.