I am fascinated and appalled by this story on so many levels.
This debate calls a whole host of issues into question. On one hand one could argue that the most pressing issue here is "fairness." I am all for fairness, and am a firm believer that cheating should not be tolerated in any form. But that is not the only driving forces behind this.
What does it mean to be a woman?
How does one prove that one is a woman?
What does it mean to be a female athlete?
How and where do concepts of Beauty and Attractiveness play into this debate? And especially the concepts of Beauty and attractiveness that apply one, (and, dare I say, white/Anglo) Western rule of thumb for all womankind.
Let's break this down in lay(wo)man's terms: Caster Semenya isn't pretty. She ain't Beyonce Knowles.
But cases like this one, bring out the ugly side in everyone involved. One has to question whether the Russians and Italians would reacted as fiercely as they have if Caster Semenya had been a svelte, long-haired, pretty girl from Iceland or Norway? Or would they have just slipped away, suffered their agonies of defeat in silence.
I was very proud this morning to read in The Guardian's coverage of all this that British runner, and Bronze medalist, Jenny Meadows, was "too polite" to make any comments regarding the gender controversy surrounding her South African competitor.
Jenny Meadows' very British stance shows a grace and decorum that serves as a lesson the rest of world could do with learning.
For more on this story see: "Jenny Meadows too polite to question Caster Semenya"