Caster Semenya has been embroiled in legal battles to be allowed to compete in the 400m after being banned for high levels of natural testosterone.  Now two Namibian runners are also affected.  (File photo).

Getty Images

Caster Semenya has been embroiled in legal battles to be allowed to compete in the 400m after being banned for high levels of natural testosterone. Now two Namibian runners are also affected. (File photo).

Two 18-year-old Namibian runners have been banned from running the 400m at the Olympics due to high levels of natural testosterone, becoming the latest female athletes to be affected by the same controversial regulations that sidelined Caster Semenya.

Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, who broke into the Olympic medal count with incredibly fast times this year, were subjected to ‘medical evaluations’ by track governing body World Athletics during their training camp in Italy, the Namibian Olympic Committee said.

They were withdrawn from the 400m by the Namibian team after tests revealed high natural testosterone, which meant they would not be allowed to run the 400m in Tokyo.

The pair can still run the 200m, where they also qualified, as the track’s testosterone rules only apply to distances between 400m and one mile.

READ MORE:
* Far from being forbidden, Caster Semenya should be celebrated
* Caster Semenya loses in Swiss Supreme Court over testosterone rules
* Caster Semenya steps up to 200 meters with aim of running at Tokyo 2020 Olympics

In a separate statement, the Namibian Athletics Federation said the two teenagers would still go to the Olympics and “focus all their attention on the 200m event”. She said the runners were “disappointed” but “they remain in good spirits”.

Their exclusion from the 400 drew angry reactions and criticism of the rules from many political parties in Namibia.

Before this year, the two athletes were relative unknowns.

Mboma ran 48.54 seconds to win a 400m race in Poland on Wednesday, which was an under-20 world record and the seventh-fastest time ever by a woman in the 400. It was also the fastest time in the world this year ahead of all the big names in the event, and the best time in the world since 2019.

Masilingi’s 49.53 seconds in a low-level encounter in Zambia in April is the third fastest time of 2021 behind Mboma and Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the current Olympic champion.

These eye-catching moments prompted World Athletics to order the testosterone tests.

“It is important to understand that our two athletes were unaware of this condition,” the Namibian Olympic committee said.

The Namibian Olympic body said it was in close contact with World Athletics chief medical officer Stephane Bermon, one of the architects of the testosterone rules, “about the way forward in the interest of our two sprinters”.

The situation is reminiscent of the highly controversial gender verification tests carried out on a teenage Semenya when she burst onto the international scene at the 2009 world championships in Berlin.

World Athletics’ latest testosterone regulations have been hotly debated since their introduction in 2018.

They prevented Semenya, the two-time Olympic champion, from racing in her favorite event and defending her title in Tokyo. It has launched legal challenges in various courts, calling the rules unfair and discriminatory, but has lost two of those appeals and is waiting for a third to be heard.

The rules also affected two other top African athletes, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya, who won silver and bronze behind Semenya at the 2016 Olympics, where the testosterone issue became history. dominant.

Niyonsaba and Wambui were also ruled out of the 800m, although Niyonsaba has qualified for the Olympics in the 5,000m and announces she will race in Tokyo.