Lukas Sinimbo Muha, the chairperson of the country’s National Council, has globalised the fight against the ban of sprinters Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi from competing in events from 400m up to a mile by World Athletics.
Speaking at the recent 5th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) World Conference of Speakers of Parliament in Vienna, Austria, Muha used the occasion to draw attention to the growing disapproval around World Athletics’ rules that prohibit athletes with perceived high testosterone levels from partaking in those events.
Namibia’s Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Mboma and teammate Masilingi are banished from running in their preferred 400m event after multiple tests ordered by World Athletics found they both have elevated natural testosterone levels.
That means they fell prey to the same controversial regulations of World Athletics that sidelined South Africa’s double Olympic champion Caster Semenya in the 800m. The same messy rules also derailed the careers of Burundi’s 2016 Rio Olympics 800m silver medallist Francine Niyonsaba and Kenya’s 2016 Rio Olympics 800m bronze medallist Margaret Wambui.
The conference extensively discussed ways and means of repealing laws that discriminate against women and girls, and stopping them from achieving gender equality.
Muha said gender equality and women’s empowerment through sport does not enjoy the same respect and attention like it does in other areas like politics, academia and business, adding that more should be done to address the shortcomings currently being experienced by women and girls.
“Gender equality and women’s empowerment contribute to women’s access to public leadership roles, whether in politics, the legal profession, the business sector, academia and sports, which remains elusive in some countries despite the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals,” he told the gathering.
“Hence, I am making a call to World Athletics to repeal the controversial and discriminatory rule on women with high testosterone that is used against women in sports; and to be specific on our two Namibian sprinters, who were banned from competing in the 400m race at the recent Tokyo Olympics. The rule is unfair in the sense that these two innocent 18-year-old girls are naturally born like any other girls.”
Under the current World Athletics regulations, both Mboma and Masilingi would have to undergo treatment to lower their testosterone levels if they want to compete in distances from 400m to a mile.