By Rebecca Jordan-Young & Katrina Karkazis
Published June 17th, 2012
The International Olympic Committee’s new policy governing sex verification is expected to ban women with naturally high testosterone levels, a condition known as hyperandrogenism, from women’s competitions, claiming they have an unfair advantage. I.O.C. officials portray this as a reasonable compromise in a difficult situation, arguing that the rules may be imperfect, but that sports are rule-based — and that the rules should be clear.
We agree that sports need clear rules, but we also believe that the rules should be fair and as rational as possible. The new policy, if it is based on testosterone levels, is neither.
So what is a better solution?
First, at the very least, female athletes should be allowed to compete throughout any investigation. Suspending them from competition once questions are raised violates their confidentiality and imposes sanctions before relevant information has been gathered.
Second, when it comes to sex, sports authorities should acknowledge that while science can offer evidence, it cannot dictate what evidence we should use. Scientifically, there is no clear or objective way to draw a bright line between male and female.
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Published June 2012