Readers React: How the facts show Caster Semenya is being unfairly singled out

South Africa’s Caster Semenya competes to win the gold in the women’s 800-meter final during the Diamond League in Doha, Qatar, on May 3.
(Kamran Jebreili / AP)

To the editor: Caster Semenya, an Olympic gold-medal runner from South Africa, should be allowed to compete as she is. Here are the facts and data, as reported in the New York Times, that prove Semenya is being unfairly targeted by the International Assn. of Athletics Federations’ policy to force people like her to take testosterone-reducing medication before competing.

The IAAF itself states that most women, including elite female athletes, have natural testosterone levels of 0.12 to 1.79 nanomoles per liter. The normal male range after puberty is much higher, at 7.7 to 29.4 nanomoles per liter.

Semenya has now been told that if she wishes to compete, she will have to take hormone-suppressing drugs and reduce her testosterone levels below 5 nanomoles per liter for six months before competing, and maintain those lowered levels.

The IAAF also allows transgender athletes to compete in major international competitions; transitioning women can compete with testosterone levels of 10 nanomoles per liter. This is double what Semenya is allowed.


Semenya is a woman, and she should be allowed to compete as she is, naturally.

Crista Worthy, Hidden Springs, Idaho


To the editor: Regarding Semenya, the reigning Olympic champion in the women’s 800-meter race, the issue is that she is a woman racing against other women.


If you want a truly level playing field, then have her compete against all comers, including men. This should apply to all sports — basketball, swimming, tennis and so on.

Norman Zangl, Burbank

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