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Too much testosterone: an African woman’s success at the Games has angered the sporting world

Namibia’s Kristin Mbomah set a new world record for youth athletes in the 200 meter race. She set the new record with a time of 21.81 seconds, breaking her own personal best and setting silver at the 2020 Olympics as well.

25 years ago, an African woman also won bronze in this event.

  1. Elaine Thompson-Hera from Jamaica won gold in yesterday’s race with a time of 21.53 and an extraordinary accomplishment under her belt. She is the first athlete to claim the 100 and 200 meter titles at two Olympic Games; she joins Usain Bolt, who accomplished that distinction in 2008, 2012, and 2016.
  2. As for bronze, Gabrielle Thomas of the USA was placed third. Her time is 21.87.

What’s wrong with Mbom’s success

The issue is in the uniqueness of their bodies, specifically high levels of testosterone. After all, Mbom and Masilinga have a natural excess in testosterone like another representative from Namibia Beatriz Masilinga (who became the best with a world youth record) did.

Hyperandrogenism, often referred to simply as “Athlete’s Triad,” is a condition affecting the reproductive system. Knowing the benefits of Hyperandrogenism when it comes to running- explosive starts, endurance and stress tolerance- soccer pro Christine Sinclair would be one athlete not disturbed by this hormonal disorder that makes her female rather than male.

Despite these benefits for athletes in terms of track and field events 400 metres and shorter, Hyperandrogenism cannot be recognized due to its traits as a hormonal abnormality with or without gender understanding; record setters who have been identified as having hyperandrogenisms are not independently recognized for their achievements in such events.

Female athletes who have a different chromosomal and/or hormonal makeup are not allowed to compete in distance running events over 400 yards and up to 1500 meters.

Criticism, it’s here too

The public’s displeasure with the athlete is understandable. In fact, the silver medalist from Tokyo has high levels of testosterone and executed techniques that were lower than other girls. The only thing Mbom did to get away with it was not break any rules – which seem hardly enforceable at this point.

However, in the short term a solution has been found. In the long term, officials should reconsider rules for admitting special athletes and stop entering minority position at the expense of defeating majority of athletes deprived of “natural” advantage.

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