‘We will not appeal World Athletics decision’ – Botha

• By Michael Uugwanga

COACH of world champion Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, Henk Botha recently opened up to Confidente Sport on the reasons why they have not appealed against the World Athletics’ decision to declare ineligible the young sprinters from competing in future 400 metre races, because of their alleged genetic condition that raises their testosterone levels.

A decision was made by the world body banning the two Namibian athletes from competing in the 400m heat, just before the start of the Summer Olympic Games held in Japan in July last year.

The pair ended up competing only in the 200m, which saw Mboma winning a silver medal, while Masilingi could only manage a sixth place finish.

Tomorrow in Swakopmund, the two champions will be the big stars expected to light up Athletics Namibia’s first Grand Prix event of the year, which will see them go head to head in the 100m heat.

Despite the claim made by World Athletics about their high testosterone levels, Mboma and Masilingi have not yet been tested, which raises eyebrows, however Botha has said that they will not appeal against the decision.

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“There is nothing to appeal, because there is a law that states that people with high testosterone levels cannot run in long distances such as 400m, 1 500m, 6 000m or more. But one has either to approach the court to change the law, however we cannot do that because the court has already taken up the matter and it will not take up this matter again,” he explained.

Last year, South African runner Caster Semenya, a two-time Olympic Gold medalist in the 800m, was given the green light to compete in longer distance in other competitions, while still waiting for the outcome of the appeal she filled in with Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over the same issue.

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“Caster (Semenya) went to the human rights (international human rights law framework) to which  she won the case, so we are all waiting with anticipation to see what will be the result at the end, but the reality is that we will have to spend millions of dollars on this case and I do not know whether we will have anything to show for it even though there are lots of lawyers that will say that there is case but at the end of the day those lawyers will just take your money and nothing will be done about it,” said Botha.

In 2019, the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) adopted new rules and regulations regarding testosterone levels. 

World Athletics rules require that affected athletes who want to compete in women’s running events from 400 metres to the mile events that require a combination of speed and endurance must first reduce their elevated testosterone levels below the normal male range.

The World Athletics rules do not restrict athletes who simply have naturally high testosterone levels.

They govern intersex athletes with a disorder of sexual development known as 46, XY DSD.

These athletes have an X and Y chromosome in each cell, the typical male pattern; genitalia that are not typically male or female; and testosterone in the male range, which, doctors say, suggests testicular tissue or internal testes.

These rules apply to athletes with differences of sex development (DSD). 

The IAAF defines this as individuals with congenital conditions that cause atypical development of their chromosomal, gonadal and/or anatomic sex.

But before that, in April 2018, IAAF issued Eligibility Regulations on Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) for events from 400m to the mile, including the 400m, hurdles, 800m and 1 500m events.