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Semenya’s case reflects broader dilemmas facing sports world

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NEW YORK — Caster Semenya’s running career, jarred by an adverse court ruling on Wednesday, is unique in virtually all its details. Yet the dilemmas she has posed for the track-and-field establishment reflect how vast segments of the sports world are now wrestling with issues related to intersex and transgender athletes.

The essence of the dilemma: How to minimize or eliminate discrimination while simultaneously ensuring that competitions are as fair as possible.

The challenges faced by Olympic champion Semenya — a South African woman who reportedly has some intersex traits — differ in key respects from those confronting transgender women. But there are parallels as well, as evidenced in the ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the sports world’s highest court,

The CAS ruled that Semenya and other female runners with unusually high testosterone must take medication to reduce their levels of the male sex hormone if they want to compete in certain events, notably the 400 and 800 metres. Comparable requirements apply to transgender women seeking to compete in the Olympics and in NCCA-governed collegiate sports in the U.S.; both organizations say male-to-female athletes should demonstrate that their testosterone level has been below a certain point for at least a year before their first competition.

In Semenya’s case, the CAS voted 2-1 to uphold proposed rules issued by international track’s governing body, the IAAF, saying that they are discriminatory but that “such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means” of “preserving the integrity of female athletics.”

Athlete Ally, a U.S.-based group advocating for grater transgender inclusion in sports, assailed the ruling against Semenya.

“Forcing athletes to undergo medically unnecessary interventions in order to participate in the sport they dedicate their lives to is cruel, and a violation of their human rights,” said the group’s executive director, Hudson Taylor.

Also angered was Kimberly Zieselman, executive director of InterACT, which advocates on behalf of intersex youth.

The CAS ruling against Semenya “is another example of the ignorance faced by women athletes who have differences in their sex traits,” Zieselman said in an email. “There is no one way to be a woman.”

“It is an inherently flawed conclusion that Caster’s natural testosterone level is the only thing giving her physical strength,” Zieselman added. She noted — while citing swimmer Michael Phelps’ long arms — that many athletes have unique physical advantages.

Powerful female stars such as Serena Williams in tennis, Katie Ledecky in swimming and 6-foot-9 (2.06-meter) Brittney Griner in basketball also have been cited as possessing a distinctive physical edge.

Aside from Semenya, there have been relatively few high-profile controversies involving intersex athletes, while there’s been an abundance of news stories about transgender athletes.

Overall, supporters of increased trans inclusion in sports are heartened by the pace of progress. In the United States, a growing number of state high school athletic associations in the U.S. enable them to play on teams based on their gender identity, and the NCAA has trans-inclusive guidelines for all its member schools.

But there have been numerous bitter controversies, even at the high school level. In Connecticut, for example, the dominance of transgender girl sprinters Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood has stirred resentment among some competitors and their families.

At the adult level, USA Powerlifting incurred recent criticism for sticking by its policy of banning trans women from its competitions. The organization contends that regardless of testosterone levels, male-to-female competitors generally have significant advantages related to bone density and muscle mass.

Earlier this year, tennis great Martina Navratilova became entangled in the debate over trans women’s place in sports.

A lesbian and longtime gay-rights activist, Navratilova was accused of being “transphobic” after asserting that many transgender women — even if they’d undergone hormone treatment — have an unfair advantage over other female competitors. Among her critics was Athlete Ally, which ousted her from its advisory board.

Another critic was Rachel McKinnon, a transgender Canadian track cyclist who in October won a world championship sprint event for women of ages 35 to 44. She suggested that Navratilova’s argument reflected “an irrational fear of trans women.”

McKinnon encountered widespread resentment after she won her championship event.

Initially, she was elated, even though one of her top rivals pulled out of the final at the last minute. But then a photo spread across the internet showing her on the podium with the two smaller, skinnier runners-up, triggering extensive social-media attacks.

Joanna Harper, a medical physicist and transgender runner from Portland, Oregon, says the controversies raise complex questions, and she believes there needs to be a standard based on hormone levels.

“The gender identity doesn’t matter, it’s the testosterone levels,” Harper said. “Trans girls should have the right to compete in sports. But cisgender girls should have the right to compete and succeed, too. How do you balance that? That’s the question.”

The IAAF argued in Semenya’s case that high, naturally occurring levels of testosterone in athletes with intersex characteristics that don’t conform to standard definitions of male and female give them an unfair competitive advantage. It decreed a maximum level for females.

Semenya — whose muscular build and super-fast times have led some to question her accomplishments — declared she will not be deterred by the CAS ruling.

“For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger,” she said in a statement. “I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world.”

David Crary, The Associated Press




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PARKER THOMPSON BREAKS NEW GROUND WITH INCREDIBLE TWO SERIES WEEKEND AT TORONTO INDY

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Parker Thompson representing Abel Sports in Toronto Indy

From Parker Thompson Racing

TORONTO, ONTARIO

Parker Thompson may be the busiest road racing driver on the continent. Since March, the young Alberta native has raced 27 times in four different series. Challenging for championship titles in both open-wheel race cars and sports cars, Thompson has shown incredible skill and versatility. That was most evident this weekend when Thompson raced in both the Indy Pro 2000 by Cooper Tires series, and the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series as part of the Honda Indy Toronto event. With four alternating races, Thompson demonstrated an adaptability seldom seen in motorsports. In an incredible performance, he earned three podium finishes and the Yokohama Tires Hard Charger award. The result puts an exclamation mark on his accomplishments so far this year, and further reinforces his status as one of the continents top young drivers.

With a busy ten session schedule over the three day weekend, Thompson could often be seen hurrying between the Porsche GT3 and Indy Pro 2000 paddocks located at opposite ends of the event site in downtown Toronto. Competing in two series during the same event presented a variety of challenges not typical of most race weekends.

“There is a lot of work and preparation that goes into every single session we do on the race track. Balancing two different series this weekend would never have been possible without incredible support from my teams, Abel Motorsports [Indy Pro 2000] and Sports Car Boutique [IMSA GT3 Canada]. Getting the maximum out of two very different cars was a tremendous challenge. The Porsche GT3 Cup Car, and the Tatuus PM-18 Indy Pro 2000 car are not only very different in size and handling characteristics, but they also require a very different strategy and approach during race action. Going back and forth between vehicles, and jumping straight into race pace really tested my concentration and ability to remember key markers and set-up notes for this very unforgiving Streets of Toronto track. This was probably my most stressful weekend of racing ever, but I’m overjoyed by our results! In these two highly competitive series, I always feel blessed to stand on the podium. Doing that three out of four times this weekend feels like a huge achievement.” – Parker Thompson

The first of three podiums came with Abel Motorsports in Indy Pro 2000, where Thompson began his first race of the weekend from seventh position in the thirteen car line up. Navigating traffic and multiple yellow flag incidents on the challenging street course, Thompson maneuvered the #8 Abel Motorsports car to a 3rd place finish.

Race 2 in Indy Pro 2000 featured a relentless duel between Thompson and championship leader Rasmus Lindh. Starting in P3 and P2 respectively, the two drivers exchanged places multiple times early in the race. Thompson would make a final pass in turn 3 of the Toronto street course, and hold off Lindh for the remainder of the race to earn a second place finish.

Parker Thompson Toronto Indy 2nd Place

In GT3 Cup Challenge Canada, Thompson began Race 1 from 7th position after a heavy rain prior to race start created conditions that challenged a variety of drivers and teams. In a clear demonstration of car control, Thompson navigated the #3 SCB Racing / Porsche Centre Victoria car around the drying track, executing four passes in the first seven laps. The performance earned him the Yokohama Tires Hard Charger Award, and the final step on the podium.

Parker Thompson 3rd place in Toronto

In Race 2 of GT3 Canada, a rare mistake from Thompson saw his Porsche make contact with a tire wall in turn eight. Continuing the race from the back of the field, a lengthy yellow flag resulting from a crash between drivers Metni and Dussault allowed Thompson to rejoin the main group and improve his position. Piloting a car with front end damage, he would work his way up to 5th position before the 45-minute race expired.

This incredible weekend marked the 100th race of Thompson’s young career, and performing double duty was a fitting celebration of that milestone. Since 2015, Thompson has had a steady career, earning wins in every type of car he has raced. In one-hundred races, he has earned 55 podiums and 26 race wins. His lifetime winning and podium percentages are outstanding by any measure, but Thompson’s numbers this season are even more impressive. In 2019, he has won exactly a third of his races, and placed on the podium more than three quarters of the time.

After one weekend off, Thompson will resume his busy schedule on July 26th with three consecutive race weekends in Indy Pro 2000, IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge Canada, and the Canadian Touring Car Championship. He is currently second place in overall championship standings for Indy Pro 2000 and GT3 Canada, and he is leading the Canadian Touring Car Championship GTS standings.

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Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum

Innisfail hosts Sports Hall of Fame Golf Tournament August 8th- Reserve your spot!

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As your plans and commitments for this summer start to fill your calendar, we hope that you have had a chance to set aside August 8 for the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum annual golf tournament.

On August 8, 2019, we will be having our annual golf tournament at Innisfail Golf Club. The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has strived to preserve and celebrate Alberta’s exceptional athletes, builders, pioneers, and teams for over 62 years. Each year the Golf Tournament brings together our Honoured Members, Inductees, sporting organizations and the community for a great day of golf and networking. The Golf Tournament is a major fundraiser for ASHFM and allows us to continue to bring sports history and education to Albertans and inspire the future Hall of Famers. Your support in the past few years is very much appreciated and we hope that you will be one of our special guests this year.  I have enclosed the tournament sponsorship opportunities and a golf registration if you would like to join us for our Golf Tournament this year.

Please call Kayli at 403-341-8614 if you have any questions or concerns regarding our golf tournament sponsorship or participation.

Click to visit the website.

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july, 2019

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