Argus Wesleyan | The Olympic flame burns for only a few: how the Olympics failed black women in athletics

c / o

The Olympics opened for women in 1900, and for the most part things improved slowly but steadily. Initially, women could not compete in sports considered compatible with their femininity and their fragility. These included tennis, figure skating, horseback riding and other sports considered to fall under the “recreation” category. Thus, events such as the discus throw, the high jump or the 100-meter sprint were not on the agenda.

Women didn’t need to protect their femininity and were also able to participate in more intense sports, so they obviously didn’t like being left out. After lobbying the International Olympic Committee by hosting women’s Olympics, and after many ups and downs where women were re-excluded from athletics events, the Olympics finally demanded that all sports include both men. and women in 2007.

You know, only a hundred years. But who matters? And anyway, it’s not like there are still inequalities. They surely had to sort out all their problems since they had a whole century to do it. Law?


I don’t even know where to start. The point is, the Olympics are still not kind to women, especially black women. My recap of the story is primarily about the struggle of white women to compete in the Olympics. The first black woman to compete in the Olympics, Tidye Pickett Phillips, did it in 1932, 32 years after the first white woman.

American Sha’Carri Richardson has captured the hearts of many with her orange hair and long pink fingernails, the latter of which were chosen by his girlfriend. She also happens to be absolutely dominant on the track; running 10.86 seconds in the 100 meters, she currently holds the American record in this event. Yet she was absent from the 100-meter Olympic Games due to a returning positive drug test… for marijuana.

Around the same time, Shelby Houlihan, a white American runner, was nearly cleared to compete in the US track and field trials 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 incorrect result. I like this answer because you would have to eat more than a pound of pork offal to come close to a positive test. It’s not an obscene amount (although I wonder how that would go in a tortilla), but what’s even more interesting is that it the lawyer told the press that she actually ate a carne asada burrito, which is a steak, and the last time I checked the steak is not pork. It also does not contain nandrolone.

Marijuana, on the other hand, is legal in many states, as well as in Canada and Uruguay. The US Anti-Doping Agency bans the substance because it meets its three criteria that make a substance ineligible; marijuana poses a risk to the health of athletes, improves performance and violates the spirit of the sport. USADA states that marijuana is considered performance enhancing and mentions that this classification is due to human and animal studies, but does not cite its sources beyond certain basic information from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection. There are a 2011 source written by scientists who work for the World Anti-Doping Agency, a governing body that works closely with USADA, but critics have questioned the accuracy of the study.

Other scientific studies, meanwhile, have at best inconclusive results as to whether or not marijuana can improve performance. Most studies agree that marijuana inhibits performance by decreasing the endurance and peak performance of an athlete.

I heard a lot of people say that Richardson knew the rules and chose to break them. This is a logical argument, but one that ignores the fact that the existing rule makes no sense. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should not be able to punish an athlete for using drugs that do not improve their performance. Most athletes don’t even use marijuana before competition because they know it will worsen their performance. It seems silly to punish them for doing something that can only hurt their chances, not help.

Richardson accepted responsibility for her actions and said she used marijuana to cope with the death of her birth mother, news she learned from a reporter. But she shouldn’t have taken responsibility. The rule should never have existed in the first place, being based on flawed science and anecdotal evidence.

The IOC’s problems with athletics do not end there. Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi of Namibia were disqualified from all races between 400 meters and 1600 meters. Why? They refused to take drugs in order to lower their naturally high testosterone levels and are now unable to compete. World Athletics, which is the governing body that sets the rules for athletic competition, has a rule in place that women who produce more than 5 nmol / L of testosterone must reduce it through hormonal drugs in order to be able to to compete.

I have already said it and I repeat: this rule should not exist. Michael Phelps may have naturally low levels of lactic acid and frightening stature and be considered a swim miracle, but a black woman with a similar level genetic advantage should be banned … for some reason. To give other athletes a “fair advantage”. Costs. Should we then make the Olympics about ordinary people? Make sure there isn’t anyone too tall as that would be a genetic advantage, right? And certainly no one with naturally high endurance. Why don’t we watch Joe Shmoe run the 100m instead of the best of their sport? It sounds a lot less interesting to me, but hey, it’s you, World Athletics.

The IOC can say all it wants about putting gender equality first, but the point is it continues to look the other way when governing bodies create rules that aim to punish black women for having excelled in the sport. Actions speak louder than words, and right now they don’t even open their mouths.

Black women deserve fairness in athletics. IOC, why don’t you take the mic and explain yourself? Or better yet, in fact, change those ridiculous rules. I thought you wanted to be “faster, higher, stronger, together”.

What happened to “Together? “

Cameron Bonnevie can be reached at [email protected].

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