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Most decorated Olympic basketball player sells gold medal

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Teresa Edwards, the most decorated Olympic basketball player in history with five medals (four gold), is selling one of those medals.

Edwards’ collection with auction house Lelands includes not only her first Olympic gold medal from 1984, but also game-worn Olympic jerseys and her Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame jacket and ring. The same auction block includes 1904 Olympic golf gold and silver medals.

Edwards’ Olympic gold medal auction had a starting bid of $15,000 and is up to $29,231 with 17 days left.

Much of Edwards’ memorabilia from her 16-year international career, including all of her Olympic medals, have been displayed at the University of Georgia, her alma mater, for 10 to 20 years.

Edwards is selling her first Olympic gold medal to “test the market” for such a piece of women’s sports memorabilia before deciding whether to sell the other medals.

She said a six-figure sum for the 1984 medal would be successful. In 2014, former NBA All-Star Vin Baker‘s gold medal from the 2000 Sydney Games sold for $67,000.

Edwards said her longtime U.S. teammate, Sheryl Swoopes, sold one of her Olympic gold medals (Swoopes’ 1996 gold is listed here as going for $13,000 in 2013).

“To die and leave them [the medals] afloat would be horrible,” said Edwards, who played on five straight Olympic teams from 1984 through 2000 and was Chef de Mission for the U.S. Olympic team in 2012. “To live and have an opportunity to donate them to certain places, that’s good, too.”

For Edwards, a motivation is gender equality.

“I don’t think women truly get a real opportunity to be part of the wealth that men are experiencing with articles of this nature,” she said. “I would love, first and foremost, to see women have a market to have the same options and opportunity to be a part of that auction world, to be a part of the greatness that goes with the Babe Ruth products and the Muhammad Ali products and the [Michael] Jordans. I just feel like women have a market. We have the Jackie Joyners [Kersee], we have the Billie Jeans [King], we have the [Martina] Navratilovas.”

A pair of Jordan’s shoes from the 1984 Olympics was auctioned Sunday morning for $190,000.

“If someone bought my medal for that kind of money, I think it would just open up a whole new window, an opportunity for women in sports and their history,” Edwards said. “Our stories haven’t been told yet.”

In 1984, Edwards made the Olympic team as its youngest player following her sophomore year at Georgia. Under coach Pat Summitt, the U.S. earned its first Olympic women’s basketball title in the event’s third time on the Olympic program.

Summitt, while a 24-year-old coach at Tennessee, was the oldest member of the first U.S. Olympic women’s team in 1976, which lost to the Soviet Union in the final.

What would the late Summitt, who didn’t win an Olympic gold medal herself, think of Edwards’ decision to sell one of hers?

“Deeply, I would think she would think the same thing I’m thinking,” Edwards said. “It’s my journey.”

The 1904 Olympic golf gold and silver medals being sold were won by American Chandler Egan in the team and individual events, respectively. The 1904 St. Louis Games marked the last time golf was played at the Olympics until Rio 2016.

It was reported last year that Egan’s medals were found in a bookcase in the former home of Egan’s daughter in Northeast Ohio.

The medals were displayed at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., and the USGA Museum in Far Hills, N.J., before Egan’s grandchildren chose to sell it this year.

Egan’s grandson Morris Everett Jr. said the original plan was to have his heirs sell it years down the road. But the timing of golf’s return to the Games, plus seeing another 1904 Olympic golf gold medal sell for $272,000, proved too large a lure.

Everett said he and his brother and sister turned down an offer for $325,000 for both of Egan’s medals and chose in April to auction them on Lelands.

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Female runners with high testosterone face new restriction

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Female runners with high testosterone must reduce those levels or will not be allowed in international races between 400m and the mile, according to an IAAF rule starting Nov. 1.

Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya, who was gender tested in 2009, is expected to be affected, according to South Africa’s Olympic Committee.

“Our evidence and data show that testosterone, either naturally produced or artificially inserted into the body, provides significant performance advantages in female athletes,” IAAF president Seb Coe said in a press release. “The revised rules are not about cheating, no athlete with a DSD [difference of sexual development] has cheated, they are about leveling the playing field to ensure fair and meaningful competition.”

The IAAF, after funding a study along with the World Anti-Doping Agency, said research showed the following natural testosterone levels:

Most women: .12-1.79 nanomoles per liter in blood
Normal men after puberty: 7.7-29.4 nmol/L

The IAAF rule forces all women who race the 400m through mile and who are androgen-sensitive to restrict their ratio to below five. It said women who have “a difference of sexual development” can have natural testosterone levels beyond the normal male range.

The IAAF and WADA-funded study found that women with high testosterone have up to a 4.5 percent advantage over their competition on the track.

Research showed 7.1 of every 1,000 elite female track and field athletes have elevated testosterone, most of which were runners in events between 400m and the mile.

“The treatment to reduce testosterone levels is a hormone supplement similar to the contraceptive pill taken by millions of women around the world,” an IAAF doctor said in the release. “No athlete will be forced to undergo surgery.”

The IAAF had gender-verification testing in place until 2011, when it was replaced with a test for abnormally high levels of natural testosterone. Under that rule, female athletes with a ratio of 10 nmol/L or higher could only compete against women if they had an operation or took hormones to reduce their testosterone level.

In July 2015, the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) suspended the IAAF’s regulation, ruling that it lacked sufficient scientific backing and was therefore unjustifiably discriminatory.

The gender-testing issue was raised in 2009, when Semenya won the world 800m title by nearly 2.5 seconds at age 18. Word leaked that track officials mandated she undergo sex testing.

Semenya was not cleared to run for 11 months and came back to earn silver at the 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics, while the testosterone-limiting rule was in effect, behind Russian Maria Savinova, who has since been stripped of her golds for doping.

Semenya then had a lull in performance after the London Games while the testosterone-limiting rule was still in effect. After CAS suspended the rule in 2015, Semenya peaked again in 2016, going undefeated in 800m races, twice breaking the national record and comfortably winning Olympic gold.

Semenya has never spoken publicly in detail about her situation. It has never been publicly verified that Semenya’s body naturally produces abnormally high levels of testosterone or that she ever took hormone suppressants.

An image with the sentence, “How beautiful it is to stay silent when someone expects you to be enraged,” was posted on Semenya’s social media Wednesday after reports were first published about the new rule.

Her default position is generally to talk only about her running, but she spoke out against her critics in a speech after accepting South Africa’s Sportswoman of the Year in November 2016.

“They say she talks like a man, she walks like a man, she runs like a man,” Semenya said, before finishing off the series with an Afrikaans word that loosely translates to “Get lost.”

South Africa’s Olympic Committee president Gideon Sam said Thursday his organization was “disappointed by the IAAF ruling.”

“Especially given that Caster’s name is again being dragged through the publicity mill,” he said in a press release. “We are concerned that the decisions have been approved without taking into account all factors into consideration, as these factors have not been properly nor fully ventilated. We wish to place on record that Caster Semenya has never engaged in any performance-enhancing activities and any enhanced testosterone levels are due solely to her genetic make-up.”

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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Olympic pairs champions take indefinite break

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Aljona Savchenko, the Olympic pairs champion with Bruno Massot, said they are taking an indefinite break from competition, according to German press agency DPA.

Savchenko and Massot will perform in ice shows next fall and winter, which could preclude them from competing in major events like the Grand Prix season (late October to early December) and the European Championships in January.

The German pair followed their title in PyeongChang with a world title last month, breaking a four-year-old world-record score and winning by the largest margin (20.31 points) in pairs at an Olympics or worlds since the 6.0 system was replaced 14 years ago.

Savchenko, 34 and a five-time Olympian, became the oldest Olympic pairs gold medalist. She then claimed her 11th world medal — tying the female record held by Norwegian singles legend Sonja Henie — and sixth world title — tying Soviet Alexander Zaitsev for second on the all-time pairs list, four behind Irina Rodnina.

The French-born Massot, 29, competed in his first Olympics in PyeongChang and earned his first world title. Savchenko’s previous five world titles came with now-retired Robin Szolkowy.

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