Two of the world’s top female 400m runners have been discreetly scratched from their country’s Olympic team after medical tests indicated they have high natural testosterone levels. Namibia’s Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, both 18, will not be allowed to compete in the 400m in Tokyo this summer.
Mboma is currently ranked number one in the world at the 400m, after she ran won the 400m at the Irena Szewinska Memorial/Byrdgoszcz cup in Poland on June 30 in a world-leading time of 48.54. Masilingi ran 49.53 at a meet in Zambia in April, which still stands as the third-fastest time run this year.
Both women have been found to have naturally high levels of testosterone, but are not DSD athletes and both are reported to have XX (female) chromosomes. Still, their hormone levels have rendered them ineligible to compete in any distance ranging from the 400m to the mile. This is the same rule that prevents DSD athletes like South Africa’s Caster Semenya, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui from competing in the 800m at the elite level.
The Namibian Athletic Committee has said in a statement that neither athlete was aware they had this condition, and the country’s athletic federation has said both women will now focus their full attention on the 200m.
Since they were introduced in 2018, the World Athletics testosterone regulations have been hotly debated in the world of elite sports, and Semenya has appealed the decision in several courts. The two-time Olympic 800m champion has lost two appeals, but is currently waiting on a third hearing. For now, however, the rule stands, and all athletes affected by the rule will be forced to compete in different events.