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Caster Semenya

John Simkin

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Caster Semenya is currently undergoing a gender test to prove she is a female after beating her rivals by a huge margin to win the gold medal in the world championship 800 metres in Berlin. This is not the first time there has been problems with gender in athletics in Berlin.

In the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Stanislawa Walasiewicz finished second to Helen Stephens from the United States in the 100m final. Stephens, who had been unbeaten in all her races at 100m, broke the world record in the time of 11.5. After the race Walasiewicz told a Polish journalist that she suspected that Stephens was really a man. When this news was published German officials arranged for Stephens to undergo a medical examination. They then announced that Helen Stephens was definitely a woman.

After winning the 100m final Helen Stephens was introduced to Adolf Hitler in his private box. He decided to find out if she was really a woman. Later she recalled what happened: “Hitler comes in and gives me the Nazi salute. I gave him a good old Missouri handshake. Immediately Hitler goes for the jugular vein. He gets a hold of my fanny, and he begins to squeeze and pinch and hug me up, and he said, ‘You’re a true Aryan type. You should be running for Germany’. So after he gave me the once-over and a full massage, he asked me if I’d like to spend the weekend in Berchtesgaden.”

Dora Ratjen, represented Germany in the women’s high-jump in 1936 Olympics. She failed to win a medal and it was not until 19 years later that Dora admitted that she was really a man, Hermann Ratjen and that he had “bound up his genitals when competing in the high-jump between 1933-36.

Stanislawa Walasiewicz continued her career and went on to set 11 world records. After her retirement she moved to the United States and changed her name to Stella Walsh. On 4th December, 1980, Stella Walsh, went to a store in Cleveland to buy ribbons for a reception for the Polish national basket team. While she was there she was shot dead during a robbery attempt. During the autopsy doctors discovered that Stella was a man.

In 1967 the Polish sprinter, Ewa Klobukowska, was the first Olympic athlete to be disqualified after a chromatin test, in 1967. She was stripped of her two Olympic medals and banned from all professional sports. However, she was physically a woman and later went on to have children.

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