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Jet-Letter by Rhynie Greeff: On Caster Semenya J'Accuse


In 1898 Emile Zola wrote J'Accuse ! This was an open letter to the President of France in which he fought for human dignity against anti-Semitic injustice.

This is my own J'Accuse ! to the IAAF, athletes, and others who believe respect for human dignity is something selfishly reserved for themselves, not also for other people who are slightly different and who do not fit into stereotypical frames.

The European Union (and the South African constitution) cherish core official values among which are human dignity, freedom and equality.

But, of course in real life, we are not physically identical. That is why sports achievement is a celebration of natural physical inequality. Victors are physically superior and practice more. Responsible losers do not complain. That is our world. Competition with respect for all.

However, now The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) has gone against the human dignity of sports victors. In recent times South African athletics star Caster Semenya, a female with a high natural testosterone level, took the world by storm. She is not a male but a hyper androgenic female due to difference in sexual development (DSD). Competitors complained. The IAAF tested her and decided at first she may participate. Competitors whined more. The governing body listened again and then capitulated by banning Caster because of her high natural testosterone levels even though her testosterone is not at a male level.

The IAAF as an administrative paradox Performance-enhancing drugs are unnatural, risky and increase the level of natural talent and that is why the IAAF bans athletes and doctors who use drugs to increase testosterone levels.

However, now the IAAF dictates medically enforced performance-reduction to artificially lower testosterone and natural talent.

The IAAF targets Caster Semenya personally as their directive relates only to the events in which she participates. If Caster does not undergo downer hormonal medical supervision to lower her internal testosterone she is banned. So, if you dope to increase your hormones, you are banned. Yet, if you do not dope to reduce your hormones you are banned.

Insensitive commentators abound. On the BBC TV's HARDtalk in May 2019, former British Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies acknowledged that Semenya's testosterone levels are natural but stated that, if Caster had been born in the UK she would have had medical intervention and been brought up as a little boy but she was born in Africa . Host Stephen Sackur just smiled at this slightly racist Eurocentric view. The point they missed was that the word if is the first word of making assumptions in theoretical conjecture and Caster Semenya is not a theory. She is a real person, not a might-have-been theoretical person.

So, normal athletes are banned when they use drugs to enhance their hormones but theoretical athletes who do not fit into the old-fashioned frames are banned if they do not comply with enforced medical reduction of their own natural hormones.

Even though Caster is not a man, the IAAF has invited her to participate in male athletics as a man should she refuse the performance-lowering testosterone decree. Will we soon see a man taking anti-testosterone medication and who then wins the Olympic gold medal in the women's 400 hundred metres?

The tragic manipulation of Alan Turing's hormonesI am reminded of Alan Turing, the brilliant man who helped to decode the German Enigma codes in World War II and who laid down the mathematical principles of digital computing. He built his own Turing machine (the Bombe) and contributed to Colossus the world's first real computer which was built in secret at Bletchley Park and with which Hitler's coded messages were decoded even before Hitler could read them. Today's computers are a result of Turing's efforts.

People who comment negatively on social media against human dignity for others who physically differ from them should thank Turing who, like Caster, was a little different. He was homosexual and, in 1952, the British government dragged him to court for that. Instead of a jail sentence, he chose to be chemically castrated and accepted to take synthetic female hormones to lower his testosterone. As a result, Turing developed female breasts and, at the age of 41 when it all became too much, took his own life with a cyanide-laced apple.

Turing. Image courtesy of Britannica.comI know Caster's case is complex but I regard the IAAF's treatment of her as being on the same scandalous old style level on which Turing was manipulated.

The IAAF has six core values but human dignity is not one of them. I propose the IAAF gets off its high horse and makes human dignity their seventh core value.

I reiterate that sports achievement is a celebration of natural physical inequality with human dignity.

You do not find a level playing field through discrimination and eliminationAnti-Semites from the days of Zola's France discriminated against Jews to eliminate them and improve their own non-Jewish playing field . Now in the case of the IAAF, for a level playing field , there is institutionalised discrimination and elimination of physically better people.

Just imagine the England Rugby Football Union or New Zealand Rugby listening to the complaints of competitors that they are not on a level playing field because a certain burly prop forward is too heavy and strong. Imagine that player then being forced to take testosterone-lowering injections coupled with a medically managed diet just so that Lucas Lightbody in the opposing side will not be drilled into the turf. Idiotic.

What about brilliant baseball catchers and cricket fielders with eyes that can follow a ball at the speed of light? No competitor will successfully campaign for a governing body to dictate correct
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