08/02 11:11 CDT Teenagers make 200 final in Olympic testosterone controversy
Teenagers make 200 final in Olympic testosterone controversy
By GERALD IMRAY
AP Sports Writer
TOKYO (AP) --- Two 18-year-old Namibian runners threw track and field's
contentious testosterone issue back into the Olympic spotlight Monday when they
blazed into the women's 200-meter final in Tokyo just weeks after being barred
from the 400-meter race.
One of them, Christine Mboma, broke the world under-20 record twice in the span
of about eight hours at the Olympic Stadium on the way to the 200 final.
She also charged past American Gabby Thomas, who earlier this year became the
second-fastest woman ever in the 200, down the home stretch of their semifinal.
Mboma finished second behind Elaine Thompson-Herah, the defending Olympic
Mboma and teammate Beatrice Masilingi aren't allowed to run in the 400 ---
their favored event --- after tests ordered by track governing body World
Athletics found they had high natural testosterone. That meant they fell under
the same regulations that have sidelined double Olympic champion Caster Semenya
of South Africa in the 800 meters.
But the testosterone rules apply only to races between 400 and the mile,
allowing Mboma and Masilingi a chance at the 200 in Tokyo.
"I'm happy with my time, breaking the junior record," Mboma said. "I broke it
in the morning and broke it here again. I'm really happy. It's crazy."
Asked about her ban from the 400, Mboma responded: "I have no comment for that."
Relative unknowns on the international track circuit before this year, Mboma
and Masilingi will now be part of a star-studded lineup in Tuesday's final. It
will include Thompson-Herah and another Jamaican, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who
are coming off a gold-silver finish in the 100 meters. Shaunae Miller-Uibo will
be there, trying to add the 200 title to the 400 she won in Rio.
And Thomas qualified too, though she had to wait for one of the wild-card spots
after Mboma powered past her in their semi and put her back in third.
Mboma said she never expected to make that final.
"This is my first Olympics. I came here to get more experience," she said. "I
didn't expect to run a good time or get a medal. I don't know. I'll see what I
do. I just try my best. I just do my best."
Masilingi qualified a few minutes before her teammate, making it through the
first semifinal with a time of 22.40 seconds. Masilingi's time was her second
personal best of the day having already posted a PB of 22.63 seconds in the
"It was good, it was good. I'm happy. I'm through," Masilingi said. "I felt
that for me making it to the semifinals was the goal that I set. I crossed it
and really happy with myself."
The two Namibians announced themselves this season with some blistering fast
times in the 400 meters, but those performances prompted World Athletics to
order testosterone tests at their training base in Italy, the Namibian Olympic
committee said. The tests revealed their natural testosterone levels were
higher than a limit set by the governing body, prompting their ban. The
Namibian Olympic committee said the two runners were not aware they had high
natural testosterone before the tests.
Athletes affected by the rules can compete in restricted races if they lower
their testosterone levels for at least six months before a competition. They
have three options to do that: Taking a daily birth control pill, having
hormone-blocking injections or having surgery.
The testosterone rules, which were introduced in 2018, affect female athletes
with conditions referred to as differences of sex development, or DSDs. Those
athletes have testosterone levels that are higher than the typical range for
females, World Athletics said, and are deemed to give them an unfair advantage
over other female athletes.
One of the many criticisms of the rules is that they're inconsistent because
they only apply to certain race distances. World Athletics scientists have not
been able to determine whether increased testosterone has a meaningful impact
in distances outside the 400-meter to 1-mile range.
The issue was a major controversy at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, when
all three medalists in the women's 800 meters --- Semenya, Francine Niyonsaba
and Margaret Wambui --- were later barred from that event because of high
natural testosterone levels.
More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and