Category Archives: Ethics & Sports

IAAF Hyperandrogenism Regulations and Caster Semenya’s case

casterSome of my recent academic work can be found here:

Op-eds can be found here:

And you can find some of my early academic work on Caster Semenya here:

MEDIA AND OUTREACH

Radio and Television Commentary and Expert Opinion

Al Jazeera Inside Story (May 2019, Television)

Commentary on CAS ruling against Caster Semenya:

https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2019/05/athletics-rules-unfairly-target-caster-semenya-190502192112795.html

BBC Radio 5 (May 2019, Radio)

Commentary on CAS ruling against Caster Semenya:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0769g7f

 BBC Radio London (May 2019)

Commentary on CAS ruling against Caster Semenya:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0769g7f?fbclid=IwAR1BVHBoJc9R5TxHMJAZHkXNjLx5caiZYOw3StVnNhck81XJ6tqMuIQ2ajg

 BBC Inside Science (April 2019, Radio)

Commentary on experiments carried out at Yale University to reanimate pig heads:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00046sj

BBC Big Questions (June 2017, Television)

Panelist for episode “Is it ethical to interfere with the genome?”:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08vg018/the-big-questions-series-10-episode-20

 BBC News Hour Extra (July 2016, Radio)

Commentary for: “A flickering flame: Is the Olympic ideal dead?”:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04263n3

BBC World Service (March 2015, Radio)

Commentary on Dutee Chand’s case:

https://soundcloud.com/bbc-world-service/what-makes-a-woman  

BBC Have Your Say (March 2015, Radio)

Commentary on Dutee Chand’s case:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02m31rq

 

BBC Radio 4 News (March 2015, Radio)

Commentary on Dutee Chand’s case:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05mrc53

 

BBC World News (February 2015, Television)

Commentary on the case of eugenics victims receiving compensation for sterilization in Virginia:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kDev7pyloM

My work on Caster Semenya has been quoted in mainstream media and other professional outlets:

Here you can download the original IAAF documents on Hyperandrogenism Regulations (they have been taken off website since suspension of regulation in July 2015 following CAS ruling)

IAAF guidelines Eligibility Hyperandrogenism May 2011

IAAF Hyperandrogenism Regulations – Appendices

 

My commentary on Dutee Chand’s case: When is it fair to be a woman in athletic competition?

The hearing of Dutee Chand is currently underway at the Court for Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

Dutee Chand

Dutee Chand

Dutee Chand (19 yo) was disqualified just days before the beginning of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July 2014 after a medical test determined that her androgen level was above the “normal” limit set by IAAF and IOC policies of 10 nmol/lit. According to the IAAF Regulations (May 2011, link) if Chand is able to reduce her androgen levels to fall within the normal testing range, she will be allowed to resume international competition. She refused to do so and appeal.

The assumption of the IAAF regulations is that hyperandrogenism/testosterone confers an unfair advantage and disrupts the level playing field.

I provided some commentary on Dutee Chand’s appeal for BBC World News Hour on Monday, March 23rd. You can listen to the clip here.

I also participated in a debate on BBC World Service Have Your Say last night. The podcast is available here.

Here’s in brief what I think about the case:

Even if it were case proven (and it is not) that higher levels of androgens provided an advantage, that would not imply that it were unfair. In other words, we do not care whether testosterone provides an advantage or not, we care whether that advantage is unfair. And to demonstrate that it is not we reflect on bigger questions, such as the meaning of athletic excellence, and gender and performing feminity in sport.

We think that exceptional biological and genetic variations are considered part of what the elite athlete is, and of what makes sports completion valuable and admirable: achieving excellence through the combination of talent – the natural endowment of the athlete- and dedication – the efforts in training and preparation that the athlete put forth to maximize what her talent offers. That is we, together with the governing bodies of athletics, do not consider unfair many other genetic variation many other biological and genetic variations which confer an advantage in sport. For example, endurance athletes have mitochondrial vairations that increase aerobic capacity and endurance. More genetic variations and polymorphisms in the genetic basis of sport performance are unravelled as we speak. Why aren’t such genetic and biological variations consider unfair? Because it is part of what we think elite athletes are. The level playing field in competition, which is one of the arguments that is going to be used to upheld the IAAF regulations in the courtoom, does not exist. It is a myth.

 Why is hyperandrogenism singled out? It is only one of these variations. I argue that it is singled out as it challenges deeply entrenched social beliefs of women in sport in a way that other variations do not.

I argue that the IAAF/IOC are now faced with a disruptive dilemma: Either ban from competition all athletes who derive an advantage from biological variations, or let everybody who is “out of the ordinary,” compete, athletes with hyperandrogenism included.

If they do not do so and uphold their regulations, they will stand to create many levels of unfairness while upholding the very opposite fairness ideal.

Bioethics seminar and Book launch (19/01/15)

I am  delighted to invite you all to a seminar by Professor Søren Holm on The seven deadly sins of bioethics – how bioethical argument can go disastrously wrong​, followed by the launch of my new book, From Bench to Bedside, to Track & Field: the Context of Enhancement and its Ethical Relevance​, recently published for the UC Medical Humanities Series, with a foreword by Professor Holm.

camporesi_cover_6x9-202x300When: Monday January 19th, 2pm to 4.30pm
Where: Room SW1.17, East Wing, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 2LS
RSVP here

Søren Holm is a prominent bioethicist and philosopher of medicine. He is Professor of Bioethics at the Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, part of the School of Law at the University of Manchester and at the Centre for Medical Ethics at the University of Oslo.

Abstract: The seven deadly sins of bioethics – how bioethical argument can go disastrously wrong
Søren Holm has entered grumpy middle age and in this talk he will use his long experience as an academic bioethicist and journal editor to identify some of the way in which bioethical argument can go disastrously wrong. He will identify the seven deadly sins of bioethics, but will only discuss five of them in detail, partly because some of the deadly sins do not really require any in depth discussion. The bioethical equivalent of the canonical sin of ‘sloth’, i.e. lazy referencing is, for instance hardly worth any discussion, despite being extremely prevalent. The sins that will be identified, analysed and discussed are ‘simplification and reduction’, ‘unlifted bracketing’, ‘it ain’t necessarily so arguments’, ‘the irresistible attraction of the hole in one argument’, and ‘the grand leap of the whale up the Niagara falls’. In so far as it is possible, the seminar will use examples drawn from the literature on human enhancement.

Professor Brian Hurwitz will be chairing the seminar.

Tea and coffee, cookies and wines will follow.

RSVP here