Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cheating Part 2: More on Stella Walsh

In my previous post asking for examples of cheaters, several of you mentioned Stella Walsh (a.k.a. Stella Walasiewicz, the womens' 100-meter gold medalist in 1932) who--it was revealed when she died--was actually xxy (she had ambiguous genitalia).

Here's what you didn't know about that story:

In the 1936 Olympics Walasiewicz finished second behind Helen Stephens of the U.S.A. in the 100-meters in Berlin. Walasiewicz was so stunned she lost that she accused Stephens of being... a man! Officials carefully inspected Stephens and declared her to be, in fact, female and Olympic champion.

Like my colleague Marc Olivier said when I told him the story: "She who smelt it, dealt it."

Here is a little more information you may (or may not) want to know. During the Summer Games in Tokyo (1964) 26.7% of the female track and field gold medalists were not double-x chromosome females: Tamara Press (shot put and discus), Irina Press (pentathlon), and Ewa Klobukowska (4x100 relay) had... well... more naturally occurring testosterone than their female counterparts. In fact, a large percentage of the very early Olympic disqualifications resulted from athletes breaking gender rules.

The IOC now tests for this ahead of time, I'm told. Too bad. I think I may have had a chance in rhythmic gymnastics.

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