Former England international cricketer Geoffrey Boycott is known to have remarked during a television commentary: 'My mum could have done better than that.' The Yorkshireman was talking about the unlikely scenario of an elderly woman outshining a team of macho men on the cricket field. No one seemed to take offence but when the gender roles are reversed - at least, in the minds of the masses - a sense of injustice is felt and emotions run high. Caster Semenya's victory in the women's 800 metres at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin last month stirred up a political hornet's nest after it was revealed the South African had earlier recorded testosterone levels that were as much as three times the norm for a female. Instead of seeing a celebration of the achievement that saw her win the final by almost 2 1/2 seconds, the 18-year-old student from Pretoria was accused of cheating because, perhaps, she should have been using a different locker room. We now await the results of a gender test as a group of doctors try to verify that the teenager described as 'my little girl' by her father Jacob Semenya, is not, in fact, 'a chip off the old block'. It's a storyline we've seen in sports too frequently: jealous rivals spouting diatribes against successful newcomers who break traditional moulds and stereotypes. A decade ago in the wake of a little-known opponent's path to the Australian Open tennis final, Martina Hingis described 19-year-old Amelie Mauresmo as 'half a man: she's here with her girlfriend'. And Lindsay Davenport, beaten in the semi-finals, claimed the Frenchwoman 'played like a guy out there'. Fortunately, Mauresmo, a former world number one, is now a respected WTA veteran and no one thinks twice about her power, athleticism or sexual orientation. In 2006, Indian champion Santhi Soundarajan was stripped of her 800m silver medal at the Asian Games in Doha after a sex test revealed she lacked the 'characteristics of a woman'. She's never run competitively again and was later diagnosed with androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS), which is a rare condition that produces a male-female mix at the sex chromosome level. A year later, a distraught Soundarajan was reported to have attempted suicide. She now runs her own successful athletics academy in the state of Tamil Nadu and sent out a message to Semenya this week to keep fighting to hold onto her medal. 'She is a woman and that's it, full stop,' Soundarajan said. 'A gender test cannot take away from you who you are.' Also outspoken in her support of Semenya is Danish-born professional golfer Mianne Bagger, who underwent sex reassignment surgery at the age of 28 and now plays on the Ladies European Tour. Although her circumstances are obviously different, she can relate to the unwanted public scrutiny and says Semenya's case is another example of sport's reluctance to 'embrace natural human diversity and protect its athletes'. 'This has nothing to do with people cheating and everything to do with the failure of sport - the IAAF in this case - to ensure safety and protection of its athletes,' she said. 'The bottom line, plain and simple, is the victimisation of women in sport. It is a socially induced problem rather than a factual or scientifically based one.' Bagger added that proper protocol and confidentiality seem to go out the window when it comes to the salacious subject of gender testing and that elevated levels of testosterone are also not uncommon among her golfing colleagues in Europe 'who are not cheating and not doping'. 'Part of the problem is that a bunch of 'good ol' boys' sit on boards of sporting bodies and decide what is right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable,' she said. 'They seem to be able to do what they want without accountability. They can destroy a woman's life and then go 'oops, sorry' and walk away from it.' Three years after sex reassignment surgery in 1995, Bagger returned to golf in Australia, winning three state amateur titles but in 2003 she was denied entry into the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Association because she wasn't 'female at birth'. However, after a landmark IOC ruling on transitioned athletes in 2004, Bagger now competes professionally in Europe and Australia with moderate success. As Semenya tries to block out the ongoing distractions and study for sports science exams at Pretoria University, sad stories of her childhood - being banned from female football for being too rough and the cruel people who tried to bar her from the girls' toilets at school because of her gruff voice - have emerged. When it comes to questions of gender in sport or anywhere else, people want clear-cut answers. But the reality is that people come in many shapes and sizes, which, apparently, includes gender with up to 75 different variations within an individual's sexing. So instead of humiliating a young tomboy, why not give her the benefit of the doubt, at least until the full facts are known.