The road to the Olympics is a treacherous one and every athlete understands the sacrifice and discipline it takes to get to the games. But for many, their lifelong dreams are often cut short due to no fault of theirs. Some have also fallen prey to sexist rules and regulations that have courted much controversy over the past years.
We look at 6 female athletes who’ve made the news this year for being pulled out of the Summer games.
Currently the reigning Olympic champion for the women’s 100-meter hurdles, McNeal had qualified for this year’s games. But, she missed a mandatory drug test before the Olympics were scheduled to happen last summer. After much prodding, it was revealed that McNeal was recovering from an abortion that was conducted just two days prior.
Unfortunately, she was suspended for five years for “tampering within the results management process” for mistakenly changing the date of the procedure by a day, on medical slips. Despite the track star qualifying for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, the Court of Arbitration for Sport announced it would not rescind the ban, resulting in her disqualification.
Sha'Carri Richardson made headlines initially when she broke the 100-meter record at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships. The 21-year-old track star won the women’s 100-meter race at the US track and field trials in Oregon last month and was a gold medal hopeful.
She was dropped from the US Olympics track team after she tested positive for marijuana. The World Anti-Doping Agency prohibits the use of cannabinoids claiming that it is dangerous and can also help enhance performance.
Richardson admitted to using cannabis in a state where it is legal after she learned about the death of her mother.
Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi
18-year-old Namibian Olympic hopefuls, Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi were banned from racing the 400-meter dash at the Olympics because their natural testosterone levels were deemed too high.
This ruling is based on a controversial policy upheld by the World Athletics on Athletes with Differences of Sex Development (DSD) that requires all women competitors’ testosterone levels to fall under a certain level if they are competing in certain events.
The rule does not extend to male athletes for whom a higher-than-average testosterone level could actually be a professional advantage.
The testosterone ruling also dashed the Olympics hopes of Cece Telfer, the first transgender woman to win the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) title. She was deemed ineligible for competition in the 400-meter hurdle trials because her testosterone levels did not meet eligibility rules for the event.
In June, 1500-meter and 5000-meter record holder Shelby Houlihan received a ban of four years for doping after testing positive for anabolic steroid nandrolone. In her claim, which was later rejected, she said that she ate a contaminated pork burrito 10 hours before the test.
A strong Olympic podium contender, Houlihan stated that she had “never even heard of nandrolone” when she was first told of the news by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU). “This ruling means that my goal of making another Olympic team is over for now,” Houlihan told the media. “It absolutely breaks my heart to have my dreams and career taken away for something I did not do,” she shared.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)