Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi became the latest Black women athletes ruled ineligible to compete in a race at the Tokyo Olympics due to naturally high testosterone levels. The 18-year-old Namibian sprinters were tested during a medical assessment and their levels exceeded the limit by a World Athletics’ policy on Athletes with Differences of Sex Development (DSD), according to the he Namibia National Olympic Committee and Commonwealth Games Association (NNOC-CGA).
The global governing body requires that female athletes’ blood testosterone levels be under 5 nmol/L (nanomoles per liter) to compete in select women’s events, including the 400m. The committee said that neither of the athletes, nor their families, coaches or the Namibia National Olympic Committee were aware of their condition prior to testing. Mboma and Masilingi will still be able to compete in 100m and 200m events.
The same rule has sidelined other Black women athletes, including Olympic champion Caster Semenya. Semenya, a 30-year-old South African, has been banned from competing in any race from 400m to a mile after World Athletics ruled in 2018 that to ensure fair competition, women with high natural testosterone levels must take medication to reduce them to compete in middle-distance races.
The double Olympic 800m champion is hyperandrogenous — meaning she has naturally high levels of the male sex hormone. Semenya has refused to take any medication to alter her testosterone levels and has challenged the World Athletics ruling.