Category Archives: Women & Sports

World Athletics, Hyperandrogenism and DSD Regulations on eligibility to compete in the female category

casterA selection of my academic work on the topic of hyperandrogenism, and eligibility of female athletes to participate in the female category from 2009 up to now can be found here (email me to request PDFs of articles if you don’t have access):

Op-eds can be found here:

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

IMPORTANT!

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

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:

IMPORTANT!

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.

CFP: Sporting Females: past, present and future, Leeds Met Sept 4, 2014

Leeds Metropolitan University’s Research Centre for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, is pleased to announce a forthcoming conference to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of Jennifer Hargreaves’ book, “Sporting Females: Critical Issues in the History and Sociology of Women’s Sport”.
In recognition of this seminal work, scholars engaged in historical, sociological, philosophical and practitioner research about sporting females and/or gender relations and sport are invited to attend this day of celebration and stimulating discussion. We seek proposals for presentations from those committed to the analysis of female and/or gendered experiences of sport past and / or present, as well as those offering critical insights into gendered sporting cultures in the future.

Proposals should be submitted in one of the following formats:
Individual abstract (c.250 words for 20 minutes presentation) OR Collective themed panel (x 3 abstracts c.250 words each for 20 minutes presentation + brief rationale identifying how the panel coheres. Documentation must be collated and submitted by a ‘lead’ panellist). Please submit your completed abstract / panel proposal as a Word document (including your name, presentation title and affiliation) by email to: Sam Armitage (Conference Administrator) at S.ArmitageATleedsmet.ac.uk, no later than 12 noon, Monday 31 March 2014.

For more information see the call for papers. If you have any queries contact Dr Carol Osborne at C.OsborneATleedsmet.ac.uk