Black Women Athletes Across The Globe Hit With Penalties Ahead Of Olympics

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Athletes from around the world are headed to the Tokyo Olympics, though a surge of penalties and criticism is calling attention to the treatment of Black women in sports. 

From a Black-owned swim cap being banned from the games, to critique over one athlete’s protest of the national anthem, to two women sprinters being disqualified because of naturally high testosterone levels, Black women athletes are getting penalized, it seems, at every turn.

Track standout Sha’Carri Richardson was sidelined for this year’s games after testing positive for marijuana last week. 

Some are calling for a reevaluation of policies implemented by the governing body of the Olympics, which are often seen as “race neutral,” according to Louisiana State University sociology professor Lori L. Martin. Martin told CNN those rules and procedures have a different impact on athletes, depending on their race and gender. 

“We tend to center whiteness,” she said. “We don’t necessarily think about how the rules that we might implement impact other groups because we’re thinking about whiteness and white people being the norm,” Martin added. 

Gwen Berry Protests National Anthem

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US hammer thrower Gwen Berry came under fire after she protested the National Anthem on the podium of Olympic trials. Berry turned away from the flag and put a T-shirt with “activist athlete” printed on it over her head. Republican lawmakers and conservative commentators disavowed Berry’s actions, though she said she might protest in Tokyo, too. 

“It depends on how I’m feeling. It depends on what I want to do in that moment, and what I want to do for my people in that moment,” Berry said in an interview. “And I will do whatever comes upon me and whatever is my heart,” she added.

Namibian Sprinters Disqualified for Naturally High Testosterone Levels

Two Namibian sprinters, Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, were ruled ineligible to compete in the 400m event in Tokyo because of naturally high testosterone levels. According to CNN, neither of the 18-year-old athletes, their coaches, or families knew of their levels prior to competing.

The same ruling has kept Olympic track star Caster Semenya from competing in any race between 400m to a mile. The World Athletics governing body ruled in 2018 that women athletes with naturally elevated testosterone levels have to take medication to lower their levels in order to compete in races.

Brianna McNeal Gets 5-Year Ban for Missed Drug Test

Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Track standout Brianna McNeal received a 5-year ban from the Olympic games after officials accused her of tampering with the doping process. According to The New York Times, McNeal missed a drug test while recovering from an abortion, she reportedly put the wrong date of the procedure on a form, leading to the governing body to implement the ban on McNeal. 

McNeal posted to Instagram about her experience following the board's denial of her appeal.

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