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Mutual suspicion … Stella Walsh, of Poland, right, congratulates Helen Stephens, of the US, on her world record in the women's 100 metres at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Photo: Fox Photos/Getty Images
Agony of the unfairer sex

in WORLD, 12/08/2012

Shot dead in an armed robbery gone wrong in Ohio, it wasn't until a Cleveland coroner did an autopsy on 69-year-old Stella Walsh that it was discovered the women's Olympic gold medallist was in fact a hermaphrodite. As it turns out, the Olympic Games has a long, complicated and occasionally sordid history of hermaphrodite, transgender and even transsexual athletes, if accusations against 1936 German high jumper Dora Ratjen are to believed.

Most recently, the cases of South African runner Caster Semenya and American hammer-thrower Keelin Godsey have cast the spotlight back on Olympic gender qualification. So far have such athletes pushed the boundaries of Olympic qualification that - rightly or wrongly - after the 2012 London Games the IOC is expected to ban women with naturally high testosterone levels from competing.

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