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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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Chicago Marathon canceled; one major marathon left in 2020

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The Chicago Marathon, scheduled for Oct. 11, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, becoming the fourth World Marathon Major called off this year.

Organizers cited the challenge of staging the 45,000-runner event “out of concern for the safety of event participants, volunteers, event staff and spectators.”

Previously, major marathons were canceled in Berlin (originally scheduled for Sept. 27), Boston (April 20, then Sept. 14) and New York City (Nov. 1). The London Marathon, originally scheduled for April 26 and postponed to Oct. 4, remains scheduled.

The other World Marathon Major, Tokyo, took place on its scheduled date of March 1 but with elite runners only.

Last year, Kenyan Brigid Kosgei won Chicago by taking 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record. Kosgei clocked 2:14:04.

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MORE: U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials results

Figure skating Grand Prix events in China remain scheduled

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Figure skating Grand Prix events in China in November and December remain scheduled, the International Skating Union announced Monday, four days after reports about international sporting events in China being canceled through the end of 2020.

A notice about sports events, issued Thursday by the General Administration of Sport of China, made an exception for Beijing Winter Olympic test events and other preparations for the first Winter Games in China in February 2022.

The Grand Prix Final, the second-most prestigious annual figure skating competition, is still scheduled for December in Beijing because it is an Olympic test event.

Furthermore, the Cup of China, one of six events across the globe that determines Grand Prix Final qualifiers, remains scheduled for November in Chongqing because it is related to the Final.

“Like for all other five ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating events in the different countries, this is of course subject to finding the necessary logistical, medical and safety solutions to hold the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating events as planned,” according to the ISU.

The ISU previously announced it set a deadline to decide on possible event cancellations: 12 weeks before an event starts. For the first Grand Prix Series competition, Skate America in Las Vegas, the decision deadline is Aug. 1.

The ISU council will meet virtually on Aug. 3 to decide on further action for upcoming competitions.

MORE: Tai Babilonia, a Winter Olympic original, credits skating trailblazer

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