The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said that all athletes who were competing in that year had to have this done. It is now known as “World Athletics.”
In August 2011, when the World Championships were taking place, Negesa agreed to have her blood checked. But Negesa says she didn’t get her test results, and without them, life went on as normal, with a lot of practice for the London Olympics. As soon as the Olympics were about to start, Negesa’s manager called to say that she couldn’t go. They took blood samples, and he told her that the hormone, testosterone, was found in her blood at levels the IAAF thought were too high. At the recommendation of the athletics governing body, she would need to take more tests.
Negesa’s bright future quickly turned gloomy from that point on. She went to a special hospital in the south of France. The name of the hospital was given to her by the IAAF. There, she had another blood test and an MRI scan to check her health. Again, Negesa says that she didn’t understand what was going on, and that she didn’t get any paper work. No one told me, “If you do this, you’ll get this later.” I was not told what the consequences would be by anyone else.
In an email, World Athletics says that “Ms. Negesa and her team were given the results of the tests that were done.” The organization says that it told Negesa by email that it was important that a doctor in Uganda follow up with her and explain to her what the different treatment options are.
Negesa says she thought she was being treated for hyperandrogenism, which is when her body makes too much testosterone. But the surgery was not what she agreed to. This is what she says: “They said I could have simple surgery or get an injection to get rid of the extra testosterone in my body.” My suggestion was to use an injection.
This is according to a medical report seen by CNN. It says that doctors in Uganda “restrained” from starting her on estrogen therapy because they were “waiting for further discussions” with an IAAF doctor. Estrogen was very important to Negesa’s recovery. In this case, retired endocrinologist Peter Sonksen didn’t treat Negesa. Once the testes are removed, as in this case, the blood testosterone and estrogen levels fall to zero and the athlete is even more hormone-deficient than a post-menopausal woman, Sonksen told the New York Times. Sonksen says: “It is important to give estrogen “replacement” therapy.” In the absence of it, the athlete will have problems with many parts of his or her body.
This letter from World Athletics says that it had no involvement in the treatment of Ms. Negesa and that CNN should ask the doctor in Kampala to explain the word “no involvement.”
She was in pain and did not get the after-care she needed, so her body could not work the way it used to. She told Human Rights Watch that she had to give up her university scholarship, and then her manager didn’t want to work with her any more. Also, Negesa began to suffer from depression because she was being judged by the public for her sex. In Uganda, it was “very hard for a person like me to be an intersex person.” At the start of 2019, she was given asylum by the German government.
After her experience, Negesa still looks hurt. She is running on the track in Berlin, in the shadow of the 1936 Olympic stadium. She talks to CNN about how she felt confused when she found out that her body wasn’t what she thought it was, and how she felt powerless and completely alone as her life fell apart. As a teenager, “I had no choice because I loved the sport, and they knew what would happen.”
“They broke my rights as a human being,” she says when she talks about the IAAF. Because I was a test subject, they treated me like one.
The hospital wouldn’t say anything for privacy reasons. IAAF rules say that a doctor who is not a member of the IAAF must prescribe the treatment for hyperandrogenism. The IAAF is not involved in any way in the process. Under no circumstances can the athlete be forced to get a certain treatment.
Negesa was struggling to come to terms with what had happened to her in 2013. In Kenya, Maximila Imali was learning that athletic success could help her and her family get out of poverty.
She did very well in the heats of the 800 m event, but she didn’t do so well in the last. I talked with the coach after coming back home about how I could improve. I also talked about what I should be doing so that I could do well in the 800 and 1500, she says.
It didn’t happen to Imali. The young woman, who was quickly becoming famous both in her home country and around the world, also got caught in the crosshairs of IAAF rules. When Imali was in Kenya, she says she got a call from a person with Athletics Kenya. They told her: “Maximila, they want you to be checked out by the IAAF, too.
Imali says that, like Negesa, she didn’t know much about what was going on or what would happen. She says of the doctors at the hospital: “They didn’t tell me anything about my body.” After we did all of our tests, they were just putting the results in an envelope. Then they go to Athletics Kenya with that envelope, and they give it to them. “
Imali’s manager would tell her over the phone that she couldn’t run in the 800m category for a while. In her store, she says she was told: “Max, you can’t run because you have too much testosterone in your blood.” The IAAF sent a letter to explain the rules. He then went on to list all the races she couldn’t compete in and show her a copy of the letter.
To deal with the questions about Imali’s gender identity raised by the tests, Imali took her mother on a walk. What she heard made her feel better. You have been raised like a girl from the moment that I gave birth, and that’s all I have to say about that. I know you’re a girl.
She says her mother’s health took a big hit because she was rejected for how God made her, as well as because people kept asking about her sports and future. Eunice Khaleha died in September 2016.
Imali: “My mom was in the hospital because of me, because of the stress.” “She died because of me. I did it.” It still hurts me because I always think I’m the one who killed her.
Many sports, like track and field, gymnastics, swimming, and basketball, are divided into two groups: men and women. As far as most of the sports world is concerned, there are only two groups: men and women. This is despite modern medical consensus.
They both had testosterone levels that were too high for some women’s competitions in their sports, tho. World Athletics now has rules for athletes who have what it calls “differences in sex development.” If they want to compete in certain races, they must lower the levels of testosterone in their blood to 5 nanomoles per liter of blood (5 nmol/L) thru medication or surgery.
People with Down syndrome can’t run in world athletics races like the 400m or 800m. Caster Semenya, a South African runner who won Olympic gold in the 800 meters, is the most well-known of the athletes affected by the DSD regulations. Her long legal fight to be able to compete in the 800 meters is now before the European Court of Human Rights, where she lives.
The attention didn’t just come from the sports bodies. Over the years, commentators on the news have helped spread a narrow idea of what it means to be and look like a woman. He wrote that “Venus Wasn’t a Shot-Putter” three days after the opening of the 1960 Rome Olympics. Do men make passes at athletic girls? “
A lot of “gender-normalizing” surgery has been done in the Global North recently. As more athletes from the Global South have come to dominate in track and field events, Dutee Chand, Maximila Imali, Annet Negesa, and Caster Semenya have been in the news and under the watchful eye of World Athletics.
The legal counsel for World Athletics tells CNN that the organization wants to honor people no matter how they identify. “The problem with that is, on the sports field, we already know that there has to be a difference between male and female competition in order to make things fair and equal.”
When it comes to events like the 400m, 800m, 1500m, and 400m hurdles, Taylor says that World Athletics is in a tight spot. It wants to avoid getting involved in an issue it doesn’t want to, but it has to do so because it wants to take away what he calls the “enormous, insurmountable advantage that these higher testosterone levels give to athletes in these races,” which are all “restricted events” in 2019.
If you have someone who thinks they’re female but has XY tests and testosterone levels like a man, you have to figure out what to do about it. There is a reason why World Athletics doesn’t want to say that: it wants to show that gender identity is real and important. If you want to be like all the other women and all the other women in your category, they say you have to cut your testosterone down to the same level as all the other women.
Taylor said that “all women” in the category had the same testosterone level. This is not true. Rules for World Athletics say that even tho an athlete has polycystic ovary syndrome and has a lot of testosterone, they can still compete. They are allowed to do so because they have a lot of DNA and no testes. Athletes who have a lot of testosterone but whose bodies don’t respond to it can still compete in the restricted categories, too.
In this way, World Athletics has become a judge of what it means to be a woman in sport because it is so careful to keep the line it has drawn. Even tho the rules are based on scientific research that has been debated a lot,
There have been studies that show that having a lot of natural testosterone makes you faster and stronger in sports. There have also been studies that didn’t show a link, and there have been studies that show the opposite. High testosterone makes people less effective.
Mitra thinks it’s hard to understand why World Athletics is so “obsessed” with DSD regulations when there has already been so much pain, so much at stake for individual athletes, so much to lose, and so much else for the sports world to deal with.
Because there are so many problems with the sport, it’s hard to understand why they’re so strict about these rules. There is so much doping in sports. We have to think about things like the safety of women in sports today, as well as things like sexual harassment and abuse of women. People in charge of World Athletics don’t want these people to stay. They just want to have an idea of it without any of these athletes in it. They forget that athletes are people at the end of the day.
What those athletes say they want more than anything is to be able to do what they love without having to worry about being judged. They want to run together. Imali, who is at home in Kenya and is still training for the sprints, says: “God wants me to be the way I am.”