Hyperandrogenism, unfair advantage and the myth of the level playing field in competition

In this paper, published on the American Journal of Bioethics and co-authored with Katrina Karkazis (Department of Biomedical Ethics, Stanford), Rebecca Jordan-Young (Barnard College, NYC), and Georgiann Davis (Southern Illinois University), I analyse and question the 2011 IAAF  policies on the eligibility of female athletes with hyperandrogenism to compete in the female category.

Caster Semenya

Caster Semenya

We argue that the policies are  flawed on at least three grounds: 1) the underlying scientific assumptions; 2) the policy-making process; and 3) the concept of fairness for female athletes, and that they should be withdrawn.

The new IAAF policies aim at  isolating the presumed positive effect of increased androgen levels on athletic performance from a myriad of other factors. However, as we show in the paper, such a move is logically flawed, and consequently, the new regulations themselves are logically flawed—it is impossible to reduce the complexity of athletic excellence to a univocal relationship between androgen levels and performance.

Read more: my post for Somatosphere.

Karkazis K, Jordan-Young R, Davis G, Camporesi S. (2012) Out of bounds? A critique of the new policies on hyperandrogenism in elite female athletes,  Am Journal Bioethics; 12(7):3-16

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