Concept: 2009 World Championships in Athletics – Women's 800 metres
The International Association for Athletics Federations (IAAF) has been granted 2 years to submit further evidence showing a correlation between higher levels of testosterone and a competitive advantage. This article first presents the case of Caster Semenya, which triggered the drafting by IAAF of the regulations on eligibility of female athletes to compete in the female category in 2011. Then the IAAF regulations are critically analyzed from a scientific and ethical point of view. Finally, the Court of Arbitration for Sport decision to suspend the regulations pending further evidence provided by IAAF, and what this means for the future of sports, is discussed.
The purpose of this study was to examine whether the difference in elite-standard track and field performance between women athletes with and without hyperandrogenism reaches the 10-12% difference in performance between men and women, using only results from elite-standard track and field final competitions. Officially available data from two hyperandrogenic women (Caster Semenya and Dutee Chand) were compared with the characteristic performance of 200m and 800m elite-standard finals. The finishing times of Caster Semenya, before her ineligibility to compete in 2009 and after the suspension of the 2011 IAAF Hyperandrogenism Regulations were found to be respectively 1.24% and 1.49% faster than the predicted performance in 800m finals. When compared with the result of the second classified, the difference was respectively 0.65% and 2.08%. The analysis of the finishing times of Dutee Chand did not lead to any conclusions due to the lack of available data. The present study indicates that the percentage difference in performance between women with and women without hyperandrogenism does not reach the 3% difference requested by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for the reinstatement of the Hyperandrogenism Regulations, neither does it reach the 10% accepted range of difference in performance between men and women.
On August 19, 2009, Caster Semenya, South African track star, won a gold medal in the women’s 800-meter event. According to media reports, on the same day, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ordered Semenya to undergo gender verification testing. This article critically assesses the main concepts and claims that undergird international sport organizations' policies regarding “gender verification” or “sex testing.” We examine the ways in which these policies operate through several highly contested assumptions, including that (a) sex exists as a binary; (b) sport is a level playing field for competitors; and © some intersex athletes have an unfair advantage over women who are not intersex and, as such, they should be banned from competition to ensure that sport is a level playing field. To conclude, we make three recommendations that are consistent with the attainment of sex and gender justice in sport, which include acknowledging that myriad physical advantages are accepted in sport, recognizing that sport as a level playing field is a myth, and eliminating sex testing in sport.