The One with a Rio Life Mystery

Fun Fact of the Day:  Ryan Lochte isn’t the only one leaving Rio early. A bunch of athletes have been seen packing up their bags and heading home in advance of the closing ceremony, including tennis star Venus Williams.


Today's Rundown

OLYMPICS

Swimming.  Last weekend, Ryan Lochte and 3 of his swimming buddies said that they were robbed at gunpoint by men posing as cops. The report embarrassed Rio and concerned athletes about their safety. This week, Brazilian police couldn’t find any evidence of the robbery and accused the Americans of making the whole thing up to hide some other sordid behavior. It didn’t help that the swimmers were coming back from a party and were too drunk to remember piddly details like where or when it happened. Yesterday, a Brazilian judge ordered Lochte and his swimming buddy Jimmy Feigan to turn over their passports so the police could investigate whether they were guilty of filing a false police report. But Lochte had already left his bros behind and was safely back on American soil. Meanwhile Feigen is still being questioned by Brazilian authorities about their stories' inconsistencies, and the other 2 swimmers are in limbo after getting pulled off their flight home. 

Track and field. It was an eventful night on the track: American women swept the 100m hurdles for the first time in the event’s history, Justin Gatlin failed to qualify for the men’s 200m final, and reigning decathlon gold medalist Ashton Eaton is on his way to a repeat 

Beach Volleyball.  After a devastating loss the night before in the semifinals, Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross rebounded quickly and walked away with the bronze, defeating Brazil’s Larissa and Talita. No word yet on whether this was Walsh Jenning’s last match, but with this medal she would go out on top as the most decorated beach volleyball player (male or female) of all time. 

Basketball. USA’s men’s team stopped messing around and won big against Argentina yesterday 105-78. It was an emotional Olympics send off for Argentina’s Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola who were part of the only team to defeat the US in the past 6 Olympics. Next up the US will face Spain in the semifinal game on Friday.


Spotlight on Castor Semenya

South African runner Castor Semenya is expected to win gold in the 800m this Saturday. She’s been dominating the sport for years, but you will probably hear more talk about her gender than her accomplishments.  Here’s what you need to know about the controversy surrounding Semenya.

What controversy?  Semenya is a very strong, natural athlete, who has always attracted questions surrounding her gender. When she was younger she frequently had to take a member of the competing team to the restroom to show them her private parts to prove she was a woman. After she won gold in the 2009 World Championships, questions surrounding her gender started up again.

An invasion of privacy. The IAAF (track and field governing body) subjected her to invasive gender testing and withdrew her from competition for 11 months. The results of the tests were leaked to the press and showed that Semenya had internal testes in place of a uterus and ovaries and testosterone levels 3x as high as the average woman. At the time, IAAF regulations said Semenya would have had to take testosterone suppression medication or get her testes removed in order to continue to compete. It is suspected that she began taking medication because her race times decreased over the next 2 years. She took home silver medals at the World Championships.

Back to peak form. In 2015, the testosterone regulations were suspended after an Indian athlete challenged them and won in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Now, Semenya’s back and running faster than ever.

The “fairness” debate. This is a difficult and sensitive subject for the IAAF. Historically, they've tried everything in the name of “fairness” from parading all female athletes in the nude to genetically testing their chromosomal makeup. They landed on testing for high levels of testosterone (following the doping model), but a positive result also involves invasive physical examination. Opponents argue that all athletes are genetic marvels (just look at Michael Phelps’ long torso and short legs), so why should naturally elevated testosterone levels be any different?  Until a solution is reached, watch out for Semenya’s dominance in the 800m semifinals today and in the finals this weekend.


Hot Read

OLYMPICS

Track and field. Watch Usain Bolt go for gold in his signature event the 200m tonight at 9:30pm ET on NBC. Also, tune in to see Ashton Eaton to try hold onto the lead and repeat in the men’s decathlon. Beginning at 8:30am ET on NBCSN and streaming.