Story at a glance

  • Five female distance sprinters, set to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, have been barred from specific events due to their high natural testosterone levels.
  • World Athletics rules stipulate that women competing in races between 400 meters and a mile are required to have testosterone levels below 5 nanomoles per liter.
  • Two-time South African Olympian Caster Semenya, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya have each been barred from the 800-meter event in Tokyo.

Five female distance sprinters, set to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, have been barred from specific events at the 2020 games due to their high natural testosterone levels. 

The Namibian Olympic committee said last week that sprinters Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi had been withdrawn from the 400-meter event after medical tests revealed high numbers, Reuters reported. 

Competition has also been derailed for two-time South African Olympian Caster Semenya, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya, who were each prohibited from taking part in the 800-meter event in Tokyo.


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World Athletics rules stipulate that women competing in races between 400 meters and a mile are required to have testosterone levels below 5 nanomoles per liter. Additionally, the current guidelines require athletes with the condition to take medications to lower their natural testosterone levels.

The Namibian sprinters, who posted top performances in 2021 competitions, were tested at a training camp in Italy.

"The results from the testing centre indicated that both athletes have a naturally high testosterone level," the national Olympic committee said in a statement, per Reuters, adding that the athletes were unaware of their condition. 

Meanwhile, The Namibian government called on the athletics governing bodies, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC), to find ways to "not exclude any athlete because of natural conditions that are not of their own making," Reuters reported

Mboma and Masilingi will still participate in 100- and 200-meter races in Tokyo, where the delayed 2020 games are scheduled to begin July 23. 


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Published on Jul 06, 2021