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Francine Niyonsaba, Olympic 800m silver medalist, also has testosterone condition

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Caster Semenya’s closest rival also has a condition that gives her high levels of naturally occurring testosterone and would be affected if track and field’s governing body implements a contentious rule to control hormone levels.

Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, who won 800m silver medals behind Semenya at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 World Championships, said in an interview with the Olympic Channel that she has hyperandrogenism, the first time she’s spoken about it publicly.

And echoing the argument of Semenya, the 25-year-old Niyonsaba called the IAAF’s intention to force some female athletes to lower their natural testosterone levels or be barred from certain events “discrimination.”

“I know people talk, talk, talk about me,” Niyonsaba said. “You can’t stop people talking. I like to hear people talking. That is motivation.

“I didn’t choose to be born like this. What am I? I’m created by god. So, (if) someone has more questions about it, maybe (they) can ask god. I love myself. I will still be Francine. I will not change.”

Referring to the rule, Niyonsaba said: “For me, it’s about discrimination. It doesn’t make sense.”

The IAAF wants Semenya, Niyonsaba and other female athletes with high levels of natural testosterone to lower them — either through medication or surgery — to be eligible to compete in events from 400m to the mile at top track meets like the Olympics. The IAAF argues that female runners with abnormally high testosterone levels have an unfair advantage.

Semenya, the two-time Olympic champion from South Africa, is challenging that at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the decision, now expected at the end of the month, could have serious ramifications for female runners.

Semenya, Niyonsaba and possibly other medal-winning athletes could be forced to take hormone-suppressing medication for the remainder of their careers or give up their favored events. The IAAF has records that show numerous athletes have the condition but has never identified them because confidential medical details are involved.

Previously, Semenya and Indian sprinter Dutee Chand were the only top athletes to say they had hyperandrogenism, and Semenya only said it publicly recently in written statements regarding her case against the IAAF.

Semenya and Niyonsaba finishing 1-2 in the 800m at the last two major meets appears to strengthen the IAAF’s stance that hyperandrogenism gives runners a significant and unfair advantage. Niyonsaba rejected that.

“To get on the podium is not easy,” she said. “It’s hard work. It’s a lot of sacrifice … Running to get good results is just about training. Nothing else.”

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Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge will race the London Marathon on April 26 before he is expected to defend his Olympic title in Japan on Aug. 9, which would mark the shortest break between marathons of his career.

Kipchoge, who in his last 26.2-mile effort became the first person to break two hours at the distance, won all four of his London Marathon starts, including breaking the course record in 2016 and 2019.

His time this past April 28 — 2:02:37 — is the third-fastest time in history. Kipchoge has the world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna on Oct. 12 was not in a record-eligible race.

Kipchoge’s previous shortest break between marathons came in 2016, when he also ran London and the Olympics. The Olympics will be two weeks earlier in 2020 than in 2016.

Kipchoge, 35, has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He has yet to race the two most prestigious marathons in the U.S. — Boston and New York City — but has said they are on his bucket list.

MORE: Eliud Kipchoge opines on shoe technology debate

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Canadians become first female doubles luge team in World Cup

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WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless made luge history Saturday, becoming the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race.

The 16-year-olds from Whistler combined to finish 22nd in a field of 23 sleds, though that seemed largely irrelevant. There have been four-woman teams in what is typically called four-man bobsledding, but luge has never seen a pairing like this until now.

The German sled of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the race in 1 minute, 16.644 seconds. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished second and the Russian team of Vsevolod Kashkin and Konstantin Korshunov placed third for their first medal of the season.

The U.S. team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman placed 11th.

But the story was the Canadian teens, who qualified for the World Cup event on Thursday. They were nearly a half-second behind any other finisher and almost 2.7 seconds back of Eggert and Benecken. But they’ll forever be able to say that they were winning the race at one point — a technicality because they were the first ones down the hill at the Whistler Sliding Center, but accurate nonetheless.

The only sled they beat was the Italian team of Ivan Nagler and Fabian Malleier, who crashed in the second heat.

There are women’s singles and men’s singles races on the World Cup luge circuit, but there is no rule saying doubles teams must be composed of two men. There have been more female doubles racers at the junior level in recent years, and it was generally considered to be just a matter of time before it happened at the World Cup level.

That time became Saturday.

Canada had the chance to qualify a second sled into the doubles field because some teams typically on the circuit chose to skip this weekend’s stop, and Nash and Corless got into by successfully finishing a Nations Cup qualifying race on Thursday.

They were 11th in that race out of 11 sleds, more than a full second behind the winner and nearly a half-second behind the closest finisher. But all they had to do was cross the line without crashing to get into Saturday’s competition, and earned their spot in the luge history books as a result.

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