(Reuters) – Namibia athletes Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi have been withdrawn from the 400m event at the Olympic Games, after tests revealed their testosterone levels were too high, the Namibia National Olympic Committee and Commonwealth Games Association said on Friday.
Both Mboma and Masilingi failed to meet the World Athletics eligibility regulations for female classification that apply to running events from 400m to the mile.
The Namibian teenagers have been in blistering form at various race meetings in Europe, and were considered among the medal contenders, but tests conducted at their training camp in Italy led to the withdrawal.
“The results from the testing centre indicated that both athletes have a naturally high testosterone level,” the national Olympic committee said in a statement.
“According to the rule of World Athletics, this means that they are not eligible to participate in events from 400m to 1600m.”
The two will, however, still take part in the 100m and 200m races in Tokyo.
The same rules have prevented South African Caster Semenya, Francine Niyonsaba from Burundi, and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui from competing in the 800m race, after refusing to lower their testosterone levels with medication.
Mboma produced a blistering performance at Wednesday’s meeting in Bydgoszcz, Poland, as she won the women’s 400m in 48.54sec, a world under-20 record, and the fastest time this year.
Mboma’s time put her in seventh place on the all-time women’s 400m list, while Masilingi’s 49.53 seconds in Zambia in April is the third-fastest time of the year.
Namibia’s government reacted swiftly, saying it was regrettable that both Mboma and Masilingi suddenly found themselves unable to compete in their strongest race.
“The Ministry calls upon Athletics Namibia and the Namibia National Olympics committee to engage both the International Association of Athletics Federations (now known as World Athletics) and International Olympics Committee to seek ways that would not exclude any athlete because of natural conditions that are not of their own making.
“The Ministry calls upon governing bodies to level the playing fields that do not exclude Africans from competing at the international stage,” a statement said.