In May 2011, more than a decade after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) abandoned sex testing, they devised new policies in response to the IAAF’s treatment of Caster Semenya, the South African runner whose sex was challenged because of her spectacular win and powerful physique that fueled an international frenzy questioning her sex and legitimacy to compete as female. These policies claim that atypically high levels of endogenous testosterone in women (caused by various medical conditions) create an unfair advantage and must be regulated. Against the backdrop of Semenya’s case and the scientific and historical complexity of “gender verification” in elite sports, we question the new policies on three grounds: (1) the underlying scientific assumptions; (2) the policymaking process; and (3) the potential to achieve fairness for female athletes. We find the policies in each of these domains significantly flawed and therefore argue they should be withdrawn.
Open Peer Commentaries.
- Reexamining Rationales of “Fairness”: An Athlete and Insider's Perspective on the New Policies on Hyperandrogenism in Elite Female Athletes
- Gender Transports: Privileging the “Natural” in Gender Testing Debates for Intersex and Transgender Athletes
- Sport, Sex Segregation, and Sex Testing: Critical Reflections on This Unjust Marriage
- The Complexities of Sport, Gender, and Drug Testing
- Getting a Leg Up on the Competition: The Importance of Osteology in Elite Athletics
- Excellence, Deviance, and Gender: Lessons From the XYY Episode
- Sport Is Arbitrary, and That's OK
- New Standards, Same Refrain: The IAAF's Regulations on Hyperandrogenism