Top 400m sprinters ruled ineligible due to testosterone rule, officials say

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Two of the world’s three fastest women’s 400m sprinters this year were ruled ineligible to run the event at the Olympics due to a rule capping testosterone levels in women’s events from the 400m through the mile, according to their National Olympic Committee.

Namibians Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, both 18, “have a natural high testosterone level” after undergoing medical tests for athletes with differences of sexual development, according to the Namibia Olympic Committee.

“According to the rules of World Athletics, this means that they are not eligible to participate in events from 400m to 1600m,” according to the committee. “It is important to understand that both our athletes were not aware of this condition neither did any family member, their coach or the NNOC-CGA [Namibia Olympic Committee] were aware of it. … Both Christine and Beatrice will be able to compete in the 100m and 200m events.”

It’s the same rule that affected all three Rio Olympic 800m medalists — Caster Semenya of South Africa, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya — and Niger’s Aminatou Seyni, who was the world’s third-fastest 400m runner in 2019 before moving to the 200m for that year’s world championships.

Mboma and Masilingi burst on the scene this year.

Mboma lowered her personal best from 51.57 seconds to 48.54, running a world U20 record and the fastest time in the world this year on Wednesday.

Masilingi lowered her personal best from 50.42 to 49.53, ranking her third in the world this year behind Mboma and Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas.

A World Athletics rule, which went into effect in 2019, caps athlete testosterone levels in women’s events from the 400m through the mile for athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD). World Athletics said that no female athletes would have a level above the cap — five nanomoles per liter — unless they had a DSD or a tumor.

Runners can either move up or down in distance or take testosterone-suppressing measures and stay under the limit for six consecutive months before being able to compete in those events.

Semenya and Niyonsaba moved up to the 5000m, with Niyonsaba qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics.

The seven fastest women’s 400m sprinters since the start of 2019 are not expected to contest the event in Tokyo for various reasons.

Miller-Uibo chose her other primary event, the 200m, as the 200m and 400m overlap on the Olympic schedule.

The 2019 World champion Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain is banned over missing drug tests.

World bronze medalist Shericka Jackson of Jamaica switched to the 100m and 200m.

American Athing Mu will run the 800m, her primary event.

Mboma, Masilingi and Seyni are qualified for the 200m.

The fastest woman in the world since the start of 2019 who is expected to race the 400m in Tokyo is American Wadeline Jonathas, who was fourth at 2019 Worlds and third at the Olympic Trials.

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South Korea’s first gold medalist of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to compete for China

Lim Hyo-Jun

Lim Hyo-Jun, a short track speed skater who won South Korea’s first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, has been cleared to skate for China and was reportedly named to the national team Monday.

Lim, who won the 1500m on the first day of medal competition at the PyeongChang Games, began the process of switching to China after a June 2019 incident where he pulled down a teammate’s trousers, leaving him standing, exposed, in front of female teammates.

Lim, the 2019 World overall champion, was banned from the team for a year and later found guilty of sexual harassment before the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was reported in March 2021 that Lim was in the process of trying to gain Chinese nationality to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lim was not cleared to switch by the International Skating Union until this July. His Chinese name is Lin Xiaojun.

Another star South Korean skater, triple 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ahn Hyun-Soo, switched to Russia after not making the 2010 Olympic team. He then won three golds for the host nation as Viktor Ahn at the 2014 Sochi Games.

China’s national team for the upcoming season reportedly does not include veterans Wu Dajing, the nation’s lone gold medalist across all sports at the 2018 Olympics, and Fan Kexin, a three-time Olympic medalist.

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Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

Brigid Kosgei

World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

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