The Wesleyan Argus | The Olympic torch burns for only a few: How the Olympic Games failed black women in athletics


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The Olympic Games first opened their gates to women in 1900 and for the most part things slowly but steadily improved. Originally, Women could only compete in sports that were considered compatible with their femininity and fragility. These included tennis, figure skating, horse riding and other sports that fall into the “leisure” category. Events such as discus throw, high jump or the 100-meter run were off the table.

Women did not need to protect their femininity and were also capable of more strenuous sports, so that they obviously did not like to be excluded. After the International Olympic Committee was pressured by organizing women’s Olympics, and after many ups and downs in which women were again excluded from athletics events, the 2007 Olympics eventually required all sports to include both men and women.

You know, just a hundred years or so. But who counts? And anyway, it’s not like there is any inequality left. Surely they must have solved all of their problems, since they had a century to do so. To the right?

To the right?

I don `t know where to start. The fact is, the Olympics are still not kind to women, especially black women. My story relates mainly to the struggle of white women to participate in the Olympics. Tidye Pickett Phillips, the first black woman to compete in the Olympics did it in 1932, 32 years after the first white woman.

The American Sha’Carri Richardson won the hearts of many with her orange hair and long pink nails, the latter of which was chosen by her friend. She is also absolutely dominant on the track; With 10.86 seconds in the 100-meter run, she currently holds the American record in this discipline. Still, she missed the 100-meter run at the Olympics because a drug test came back positive … for marijuana.

Around the same time, Shelby Houlihan, a white American runner, was nearly allowed to compete in the U.S. athletics tests for the 5,000-meter run after testing positive for the steroid nandrolone. She claims to have eaten a pork offal burrito, which led to the allegedly false result. I like this answer because you would have to eat over a pound of pork offal to get close to a positive test. That’s not an obscene amount (though I wonder how it would fit in a tortilla) but what is even more interesting is that it is Lawyer told the press that she actually ate a carne asada burrito, that’s steak, and the last time I checked, steak isn’t pork. It also doesn’t contain nandrolone.

Marijuana, on the other hand, is legal in many states, as well as Canada and Uruguay. The United States Anti-Doping Agency bans the substance because it meets all three criteria that make a substance ineligible; Marijuana poses a health risk to athletes, improves performance and harms the spirit of sport. USADA states that marijuana is viewed as performance enhancing and mentions that this classification is due to human and animal studies, but does not cite any sources beyond some basic information from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection. There is a source from 2011 written by scientists working for the World Anti-Doping Agency, an umbrella organization that works closely with the USADA, but critics have questioned the study’s accuracy.

Other scientific studies, meanwhile, have, at best, inconclusive results on whether or not marijuana can boost performance. Most studies agree that marijuana stifles performance by reducing an athlete’s endurance and peak performance.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that Richardson knew the rules and that she had decided to break them. This is a logically sound argument, but it ignores the fact that the existing rule doesn’t make sense. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should not be able to punish an athlete for non-performance-enhancing drug use. Most athletes won’t even use marijuana before competing because they know it will degrade their performance. It seems silly to punish them for doing something that can only affect their chances, not help.

Richardson took responsibility for what she did, saying she used marijuana to cope with the death of her birth mother, a reporter told her. But she didn’t have to take responsibility. The rule should never have existed in the first place because it is based on flawed science and anecdotal evidence.

The IOC’s problems with athletics don’t end there. Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi from Namibia were disqualified from all races between 400 meters and 1600 meters. Why? They refused to take medication to lower their naturally elevated testosterone levels and are no longer competitive. World Athletics, the governing body that sets the rules for athletics competitions, has a rule that women who produce more than 5 nmol / l testosterone must take hormone medication to lower it in order to compete.

I’ve already said it and I’ll say it again: this rule shouldn’t exist. Michael Phelps can be naturally low in lactic acid, with an incredible wingspan and considered a miracle to swim in, but a Black woman with a similar genetic advantage must be banned for some reason. To give other athletes a “fair advantage”. Cool. Should we then just do the Olympics through average people? Make sure nobody is too tall because that would be a genetic benefit, right? And definitely nobody with naturally high endurance. Why not watch Joe Shmoe run the 100m instead of being the best at her sport? Seems a lot less interesting to me, but hey you, World Athletics.

The IOC can say anything it wants when it comes to gender equality, but the fact is it continues to look the other way when governing bodies make rules that try to punish black women for their excellence in sport. Actions speak louder than words, and right now they don’t even open their mouths.

Black women deserve justice in athletics. IOC, why don’t you take the microphone and explain yourself? Or better yet, change these ridiculous rules. I thought it was all about being “faster, higher, stronger – together” for you.

What happened to “Together”?

Cameron Bonnevie can be reached at [email protected].

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