torsdag 10 september 2009

The IAAF testing results on the way

Latest on Caster Semenya: Results pending as we look at the possibilities and the importance of testosterone
...And then finally, the test results from the IAAF are ever nearer to being announced. Last night, the local news said "within days", and then this morning, I read this piece from the Telegraph saying that the results may take a week to 10 days.

The possible outcomes: What is on the table?
So, in the lead-up to the results being known, I guess the following are the four options:

1) A conclusive negative finding: This allows Semenya to continue to compete, no problems or questions asked. It is the best result for Semenya, and for SA athletics. I dare say that if this happens, then SA has the next world record holder on their hands, assuming she's managed and coached well (these may be rather big 'ifs' given how management are going about things). I would also dare say that this is no longer an option, since a conclusive negative finding would not require any more delays in announcement. I'd therefore all but rule it out of contention at this stage.
2) An inconclusive finding: This is the worst-case scenario. It would allow Semenya to continue competing, which is good for her, and should be respected. But it won't be. Competitors will doubt, Semenya will compete under a cloud and it will be very difficult for all concerned, in the longer term. This is the "doubt" scenario I spoke of previously.
3) If I had to guess (and it is a guess), this is a likely scenario, given how difficult it is to actually prove performance advantages based on biology. It's one thing finding physiological differences, quite another preventing competition. So rightly or wrongly, it means Semenya competes with permanent doubt. Not pleasant for anyone, least of all her rivals (who are silent protagonists in this whole issue)
A conclusive finding of advantage: Whether due to a disorder of sex development that causes an intersex condition, or a medical problem, this scenario means Semenya has to either be treated (if possible) or cannot race against women in the future. Those are tough options for Semenya. With luck, it'll be the former option and she'll be OK to race after treatment. This depends on what condition, if any, is present.
4) Positive for doping. This has rarely been spoken, but certainly is implied by many articles that have raised the issue that ASA's head coach advisor is Dr Eckart Arbeit, the former East German doctor known for his involvement in doping programmes in the doping-era of athletics. That's not to say he's responsible, or that there is doping, but it remains on the table as possible. That is purely because of the rapid nature of performance improvement, which, taken in isolation, compel one to ask these questions below is a chart showing her progress between July 2008 and August 2009.


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