Record-breaking coach Peter Eriksson called the result ‘an injustice’.
The women’s 800m final at the 2016 Olympics remains a source of controversy.
The top three placings – Caster Semenya of South Africa (gold), Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi (silver) and Margaret Nyairera Wambui of Kenya (bronze) were all biological males. While each of them is recognised ‘legally’ as female, they all have XY chromosomes and are considered to have ‘Differences of Sexual Development’, or ‘DSD’.
The fatest woman, Canada’s Melissa Bishop had to settle for fourth. 27 years old at the time and highly marketable, Bishop had the chance to become a global ambassador for Nike – a lucrative and life-changing achievement. But that was all taken away when she failed to secure a medal. The emotional toll on her, after a life time of training, had been enormous, said Eriksson.
Eriksson recently spoke out about the events of that day to Reduxx. He told the independent media outlet that lawyers acting for the Canadian Olympic Committee threatened him if he voiced misgivings about the result.
According to Reddux, most women, including elite female athletes, have natural testosterone levels of 0.12 to 1.79 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L), but Semenya has male gonads producing a normal level of testosterone for a male. In 2011, Semenya was measured as having 15.6 and 29.3 nmol/L.
World Athletics recently moved to ban trans women from women’s athletics, but for DSD athletes they simply put a testosterone limit of 2.5 nmol/L. in place.
Eriksson said this was ‘insufficient’.
‘If you had that level of testosterone as a woman, you’d get a life suspension. 99% of women have under 1 nmol/L of testosterone. It is hypocrisy.’
Eriksson said the problem is not World Athletics, but the International Olympics Committee (IOC) which has a different policy with respect to transgender and DSD athletes.
There are calls to have the 2016 result changed, to disqualify the male winners, and for Bishop to be crowned the rightful champion. Leading the charge is Canadian coach and women’s rights campaigner Linda Blades. When the threats against Eriksson first became public Blades tweeted:
‘Our own country’s leadership would rather sellout to a cult rather than to defend one of our champions – even at the expense of waving GOODBYE to #Olympic Gold!! Sacrificing a woman and her entire career on the alter of #GenderIdeology. Just let that sink in.’
Eriksson told Reduxx he supported Blade’s calls for the IOC to rectify the medal placings.