Two 18-year-old runners from Namibia were barred Friday from running in the 400 meters at the Olympics because of high natural testosterone levels, becoming the latest female athletes to be affected by the same contentious regulations that have sidelined Caster Semenya.
Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, who burst into Olympic medal reckoning with some blisteringly fast times this year, were subjected to “medical assessments” by track governing body World Athletics at their training camp in Italy, the Namibia Olympic committee said.
They were withdrawn from the 400 meters by the Namibian team after the tests revealed high natural testosterone which meant they wouldn’t be allowed to run in the 400 in Tokyo.
The pair can still run in the 200 meters, where they’ve also qualified because track’s testosterone rules only apply to distances between 400 meters and one mile.
In a separate statement, the Namibian track federation said the two teenagers would still go to the Olympics and “will focus their full attention on the 200m event.” It said the runners were “disappointed” but “they remain in high spirits.”
Their exclusion from the 400 sparked angry reactions and criticism of the rules from numerous political parties in Namibia.
Before this year, both athletes were relative unknowns.