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Kenyan sprinter: Cas ruling justifies discrimination

Wednesday May 8 2019

Directorate of Criminal Investigation sprinter Maximilla Imali in action during the Kenya Police Service Athletics Championships at the Kasarani Stadium on June 14, 2018. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Directorate of Criminal Investigation sprinter Maximilla Imali in action during the Kenya Police Service Athletics Championships at the Kasarani Stadium on June 14, 2018. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
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National 100 metres and 400m record holder, Maximilla Imali, has broken her silence over IAAF’s new rule on hyperandrogenism, saying that the rule which seeks to restrict testosterone levels among female runners is also segregative.

Imali, who has vowed that she will not take drugs to suppress her testosterone levels, has accused the world athletics governing body of segregation, saying the affected athletes didn’t choose to be born the way they were.

“Where is the fairness in all these when other sporting disciplines have embraced athletes (with hyperandrogenism) like us?” Imali said, adding that some changes introduced by IAAF are meant to bring down African athletes.

“I find it nonsensical to have separate categories for DSD (Difference of Sexual Development) athletes, yet they can’t compete among themselves since they are very few. How many are they?”

The 23-year-old said she will not be weighed down by the IAAF rule, adding that she will focus on refining her skill in 100m and 200m races before shifting to longer distance races.

THREE ATHLETES

Imali is among three Kenyan athletes affected by the new rule on hyperandrogenism rule that seeks to restrict testosterone levels in female runners. The others are the Olympic 800m bronze medallist Margaret Nyairera and fast-rising 400m runner Evangeline Makena. On Tuesday, Nyairera, who has criticised the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) and IAAF over last week’s ruling against South Africa’s Caster Semenya, said she had undergone testosterone tests as instructed but she is yet to get the results.

“I know nothing about that and I am just training in Ngong as usual,” said Nyairera.

Imali and Makena are waiting to know their fate as to whether they will travel for the World Relay Championships planned for this weekend in Yokohama, Japan.

Imali was set to team up with Hellen Syombua, Maureen Thomas, Aaron Koech, Alphas Kishoyian and Jared Momanyi in Kenya’s 4x400m mixed relays team at the championship. Makena had been slotted in women’s 4x400m team of Gladys Musyoki, Neviah Michira and Veronica Mutua.

A source at Athletics Kenya on Tuesday disclosed that results of internal random tests done at a Nairobi hospital revealed that the three athletes were found to have higher levels of testosterone.

This comes a week after South African Olympic and World champion Semenya lost her appeal against the IAAF rule at Cas.

Semenya had challenged a new rule by IAAF that restricts testosterone levels among female runners. The ruling meant the IAAF will be allowed to restrict testosterone levels in female runners starting May 8, this year.

Cas rejected Semenya’s challenge against the new rule by IAAF, saying it had “serious concerns as to the future practical application” of the new rules.

They said the decision was “necessary, reasonable and proportionate” to make sure competition was fair for females.

Semenya, 28, said the regulations were “unfair” and that she wanted to “run naturally, the way I was born”.

Imali said she supported Semenya from the word go in her case.

The athletes will now have to take medication to reduce their testosterone levels if they want to keep running in the same distances on the international stage.

The rule applies to events from 400m to the mile, including hurdles races, 800m, 1,500m and combined events over the same distances.

The IAAF announced there would be a separate classification for athletes who have a difference of sexual development (DSD). Beginning on November 1, DSD athletes will be required to reduce their blood testosterone levels if they want to compete internationally.

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