Nyairera’s career in limbo
The curtains might have come down on the career of Olympic 800m bronze medalists Margaret Nyairera Wambui after her name was struck out of the Stockholm Diamond League Meeting on May 30 in Sweden.
Nyairera, 24, has declined to take medication that will lower her strength. She is one of several star female athletes affected by an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruling this month that requires women with high levels of testosterone to take medication to suppress it.
Also struck out of the Stockholm Diamond League Meeting are Olympic winner Caster Semenya and Burundian Francine Niyonsaba, who won silver at the Rio Games back in 2016.
“I am very disappointed; I don’t feel even like going on with the training because you don’t know what you are training for. Why, when you have a high level of testosterone in men, you are likely to perform well and we celebrate that? But when it comes to women we have to tell them to lower it and we draw them out of competition. Why?” lamented Wambui. “Why don’t we take maybe men with low testosterone and categorise them as women?”
The organisers of Stockholm Diamond League Meeting will prepare the first Diamond League women 800m after the new rule for female runners from 400 m to one mile is valid.
“It is up to the athletes not to apply for meetings if they are not eligible,” said Jan Kowalski, Stockholm meeting director.
The 800m will feature US world bronze medalist Ajee Wilson and Sweden’s Lovisa Lind, European bronze medalist in 2016.
Nyairera now feels her career is slipping away from her, with no idea when, or if, she will be able to compete internationally again.
“I had hopes of making the Kenya team to the World Championships in October in Doha, Qatar. But that is all now looking like a smoke screen,” she said. “Running is in me, in my blood, it is something I cannot do without. Now they are telling us we can’t compete, we just feel rejected. We are naturals, we did not dope.”
Athletics Kenya official Barnabas Korir says they supports the IAAF ruling.
“This has been a simmering issue especially with our very own athletes having complained about running with these women with excess testosterone,” he said. “We have to be realistic that these athletes have had an advantage over the others.”
Last week Athletics Kenya dropped 100m and 200m champion Maximilla Imali and 400m runner Evangeline Makena from the team for the IAAF World Relays event in Japan over their high levels of testosterone.
Wambui grew up in Kenya’s central highlands in the town of Nyeri, and began running in primary school. She was thrust into the spotlight when she won a gold medal at the 2014 IAAF world junior championships and has since established herself as one of the world’s top two-lap runners.
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