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History of Gender Rows in Olympics

By Adeleke Adefioye

Gender concerns in modern athletics first surfaced in the 1930s when there was much speculation over Polish sprinter Stella Walsh, who won the Olympic women’s 100m title in Los Angeles in 1932 and took silver four years later.

Walsh’s nickname of ‘Stella the Fella’ was well deserved – she was found to have partially-developed male genitalia when she was shot dead in 1980.

Sex tests were introduced in athletics in 1966 following suspicion that Soviet athletes – notably Tamara and Irina Press who won multiple shot and discuss medals in 1960 and 1964 – were competing as females were male.

Mandatory sex tests were introduced at Olympics in 1968 but were dropped in 1999.

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