Namibian teenager Christine Mboma – who broke the 30-year-old world 400m Under-20s record on Wednesday – is out of the event at the Olympics after being found to have naturally-occurring testosterone levels beyond those specified by World Athletics.
The time set by 18-year-old Mboma on Wednesday in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz was the seventh-fastest 400m run by a woman of all time – and suggested she was a prime candidate for gold in the event at Tokyo.
But Namibia’s national Olympic committee (NNOC-CGA) has now confirmed both sprinters are unable to run the distance in Tokyo because of World Athletics rules on “Athletes with Differences of Sexual Development”, or DSD, following testing conducted by the global body.
“It is important to understand that both our athletes were not aware of this condition,” the NNOC-CGA said in a statement. “Neither did any family member, their coach or the NNOC-CGA.”
Mboma had enjoyed a remarkable year, breaking a series of personal bests, national, continental and global records over 400m.
Her time of 48.54 – nearly nine-tenths faster than the mark youth set by East German athlete Gritt Breur in 1991 – was so fast that she was suddenly a possible contender for an Olympic medal, especially after a week in which one main rival, Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser, was banned for two years for breaching anti-doping rules.
But Mboma’s ever-improving displays caught the attention of World Athletics (WA), who requested preliminary medical assessments, conducted in Namibia.
Further tests were carried out this week with both Mboma and Masilingi at the duo’s training camp in the Italian capital Rome, the results of which “indicated that both athletes have a natural high testosterone level
World Athletics bars athletes classified as DSD from competing in any distance between 400m and the mile in the female category unless they artificially reduce their testosterone levels, which the global body claims give the runners an unfair advantage.