All three Olympic medalists in the women's 800 meters from Rio have now spoken out against the IAAF's rules.

By Chris Chavez
September 24, 2019

Olympic bronze medalist Margaret Wambui of Kenya opened up to The Olympic Channel about the International Association of Athletics' testosterone regulations that prevent her from competing at the upcoming IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport sided with the IAAF and believed the rule was "necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF's aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics." Under the rules, athletes with differences in sexual development will have to keep their testosterone levels under 5 nanomoles per liter. In the IAAF's case, they noted that elite female athletes tend to have natural testosterone levels of approximately .12 to 1.79 nanomoles per liter. If an athlete with naturally higher levels of testosterone opts not to take medication, they will have to race against men or compete in a division against intersex athletes—if that is presented as an option. The rule will impact athletes in events from 400 meters to the mile.

All three women's 800-meter medalists from the 2016 Olympics were affected by the new rules. Gold medalist Caster Semenya of South Africa has been the face of the fight against the IAAF but lost her appeal despite the Swiss Federal Supreme Court briefly suspending the ruling. Semenya will not be able to defend her gold medal at the world championships and potentially the 2020 Olympics. Silver medalist Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi confirmed that she has hyperandrogenism, a condition that produces naturally high levels of testosterone in her body, in an interview with the Olympic Channel in April.

"I was told you are one of those affected by high testosterone, so that's how my season ended," Wambui said. "After that, I didn't know what I was meant to train for, because if I have been stopped from running by the IAAF there was no need to train anymore. That was my career, my talent. That's what was feeding me. That's how I was earning a living. And all of a sudden, this was blocked. It affected me a lot. I didn't want to train or do anything. I was just chilling.

"When I came back, that's when the IAAF announced that the rule for high testosterone would come into effect and then I became a victim because the rule affected me," she added.

She has not competed since May's Diamond League meet in Doha, where she ran 2:00.61 and finished sixth overall. Wambui, 24, says that she does not plan on taking any testosterone suppressing drugs.

Wambui was in attendance at the 2019 Kenyan national championships to watch Jackline Wambui win the women's 800 meters in 1:58.79. Jackline Wambui, 19, withdrew from the world championships after failing to take a mandatory testosterone level test, Athletics Kenya told Reuters. The time would have made her a contender for a medal at the world championships.

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