Anger Over New Olympics Gender Testing Rules
An LGBT rights group and some observers of the international sports scene are outraged by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) new controversial gender testing regulations. The IOC’s new policies require female athletes who are suspected of having high levels of natural testosterone to undergo sex verification procedures.
The rules state that women who have levels of testosterone that are equal to a man will be prohibited from competing in the Olympic Games against other women. The IOC, however, does not specify what a normal level of testosterone is for a woman. A panel of three experts, who have the power to disqualify female athletes from the Games, will make the decisions.
AllOut.org announced their outrage in a statement and condemned the IOC’s new policy. The organization is also launching a campaign against the new rules.
"Biology and humans are much more diverse than we would ever guess - what makes someone a man or a woman can’t be identified in a single test or using a single measurement," said Andre Banks, director of AllOut.org. "The new rule is degrading and humiliating to athletes who’ve worked for years and overcome tremendous obstacles in order to give everything for their sport and country. We don’t ban people from becoming basketball players for being taller than average, or weightlifters for being stronger than average. Athletes are punished for cheating - and the International Olympic Committee already has a battery of tests to maintain the integrity of the Olympic Games."
But according to some experts, having more testosterone does not necessarily make one a better athlete.
"We really don’t know," Allan Mazur of Syracuse University told Slate. "Logical assumptions about hormones don’t always turn out to be true." Slate also points out a study conducted by British endocrinologist Peter Sonksen. The study suggests that more than 25 percent of male Olympic athletes had T levels below the normal male range.
Kevin Wamsley, a professor of sport history at the University of Western Ontario, told the the New York Time the new rules were ridiculous.
"No matter what they call it, it’s still a sex test that’s all about judgments and so much more about social values than science," Wamsley, who was also the director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies, said. "They don’t need this test, and I think they should get rid of it."
The organization’s new policies were created after the controversy that surrounded South African runner Caster Semenya in 2009.
Semeya had to undergo 11-months of gender testing after officials said she was too fast and muscular to be a real woman. She was put under scrutiny after she won the 800-meter race during the 2009 World Championships.
"The Committee already has strict standards and a battery of tests to identify cheaters - this rule is something different," Banks said. "The IOC forces doctors to act as ’gender police,’ and if they don’t they could face sanctions. It’s an invasion of privacy, it violates medical ethics, and it breeds an environment where if women are too good, they are suspected of cheating. That is the opposite of the Olympic Sprit."
Watch a video of Caster Semenya below:
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