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SportsTrack and Field Tries to Understand New Rules for Intersex Athletes

20:10  08 may  2019
20:10  08 may  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

Semenya loses appeal against IAAF testosterone rules

Semenya loses appeal against IAAF testosterone rules Semenya loses appeal against IAAF testosterone rules

The 800-meter women’s race in the Diamond League meet in Doha, Qatar, on Friday included only the best of the best female middle-distance runners. And it was the last chance for athletes affected by a new ruling on testosterone levels to run in a women’s race without medical intervention.

Last week, track and field ’s world governing body limited entry into women’s events to athletes who have testosterone levels that are capable of being produced solely by ovaries. When we’re not focused on intersex athletes we tend to understand the fact of sex differences and their relevance.

Track and Field Tries to Understand New Rules for Intersex Athletes © Harold Cunningham/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Semenya, center, and her lawyer, Gregory Nott, right, arrive for a hearing on the issue of intersex athletes at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in February.

The 800-meter women’s race in the Diamond League meet in Doha, Qatar, on Friday included only the best of the best female middle-distance runners. And it was the last chance for athletes affected by a new ruling on testosterone levels to run in a women’s race without medical intervention.

That ruling, which requires these athletes to take hormone-suppressing drugs and goes into effect Wednesday, began a week unlike any other in track and field history when it was delivered on May 1.

Semenya's case reflects broader dilemmas facing sports world

Semenya's case reflects broader dilemmas facing sports world NEW YORK — Caster Semenya's running career, jarred by an adverse court ruling on Wednesday, is unique in virtually all its details. Yet the dilemmas she has posed for the track-and-field establishment reflect how vast segments of the sports world are now wrestling with issues related to intersex and transgender athletes. The essence of the dilemma: How to minimize or eliminate discrimination while simultaneously ensuring that competitions are as fair as possible. The challenges faced by Olympic champion Semenya — a South African woman who reportedly has some intersex traits — differ in key respects from those confronting transgender women.

A decision issued by the Court of Arbitration for Sport requires athletes to take hormone-suppressing drugs who have X and Y chromosomes. “In addition to having Y chromosomes, the affected athletes must have what is called a disorder of sexual development

Advocates for intersex athletes like to say that sex doesn’t divide neatly. This may be true in gender studies departments, but at least for competitive sports purposes, they are simply When we’re not focused on intersex athletes we tend to understand the fact of sex differences and their relevance.

Two of the affected women entered the race in Dubai almost immediately, an act of defiance that became the latest salvo in a heated debate over whether competitors who track and field’s world governing body has determined are intersex athletes should be allowed in women’s races.

Video: Semenya ruling divides sporting world (Sky News)

The debate has centred on a conflict between gender identity and athletic fairness, in part because it comes at a time when biology is no longer seen as the sole determinant of gender. And these athletes, who include South Africa’s Caster Semenya and Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, identify themselves as women.

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They have also tried to make life less miserable for athletes who might be ruled ineligible to play as Some were born with differences of sex development ( intersex conditions) that mean their bodies As Chand put it in her court testimony: “I am unable to understand why I am asked to fix my body in a

The new regulations go into effect Wednesday and focus on a narrow subset of the female population with male-patterned chromosomes. Clearing up confusion about the Caster Semenya ruling .

But the ruling is not about social norms. It is about sports and who should qualify to run in a handful of women’s races between 400 and 1,500 meters. And it is narrowly constructed, focusing only on athletes with a rare chromosomal makeup. Although the ruling has been widely characterised as saying that any woman with naturally high testosterone levels cannot compete in a women’s category without taking drugs to reduce her testosterone levels, that is not what it says.

The decision, issued last week by the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, applies only to those defined by the International Association of Athletics Federations, or I.A.A.F., as intersex athletes. To be affected by the ruling, an athlete must have an X chromosome and a Y — “the standard male chromosomal pattern,” said Dr. Joshua Safer, executive director of the transgender program in the Mt. Sinai Health System. People with the combination of an X and a Y have long been defined as male. Women have been defined by two X’s.

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A member of India’s national track and field team, Dutee Chand, 23, was previously known for fighting for the She said she was inspired to go public after September’s ruling by the Indian Supreme Court that Related Coverage. Track and Field Tries to Understand New Rules for Intersex Athletes .

a female athlete .[27] The ruling found that there was insufficient evidence that testosterone increased female athletic performance. Sisters Tamara and Irina Press won five track and field Olympic gold medals for the Soviet Union and set 26 Another athlete , Santhi Soundarjan, tried to commit suicide subsequent to failing the test for determining her Organisation Intersex International Australia.

Track and Field Tries to Understand New Rules for Intersex Athletes © Reuters Athletics - Diamond League - Doha - Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar - May 3, 2019 South Africa's Caster Semenya before the women's 800m REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari

The presence of a Y chromosome can lead to the development of biological characteristics associated with maleness, including higher levels of testosterone.

In addition to having Y chromosomes, the affected athletes must have what is called a disorder of sexual development, which means they have genitalia that are not typically male or female, Dr. Safer said. And, the ruling says, they must have testosterone levels in the male range, which is substantially higher than what athletes with two X chromosomes can naturally attain.

That implies they have either testicular tissue or actual testes, though intersex people often have ambiguous genitalia.

Finally, they must have a “material androgenizing effect” from extra testosterone. In other words, their bodies respond to testosterone in ways that are typically seen in men, as opposed to individuals whose bodies don’t respond to testosterone that way even though they have the XY chromosome pattern.

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The suspended rule applies to athletes with disorders of sexual development who have an X and a Y chromosome A version of this article appears in print on , Section B, Page 9 of the New York edition with the Related Coverage. Track and Field Tries to Understand New Rules for Intersex Athletes .

In an effort to address questions about fair play, track and field ’s world governing body will publish regulations on Thursday that could force some elite female athletes with naturally elevated testosterone levels to lower the hormone with medication

The first- and second-place finishers in the Qatar race were Semenya and Niyonsaba. The ruling specifically cites Semenya as an affected athlete, but Niyonsaba has said she, too, will be affected by the decision. Specific details of their biology have not been officially revealed. Both say the ruling is unfair.

In Qatar, Semenya and Niyonsaba blew away the competition — Semenya’s time was 1 minute 54.98 seconds. Niyonsaba’s was 1:57:75. Coming in third with a time of 1:58:83 was Ajee Wilson of the United States, who holds the American record in the event. Fourth was Nelly Jepkosgei, the third-fastest Kenyan in the world. Her time was 1:59. Fifth was a four-time N.C.A.A. champion, Raevyn Rogers, who finished in 1:59:07.

Gallery: Sports stars you didn't know had medical conditions (Starsinsider)

Track and Field Tries to Understand New Rules for Intersex Athletes

The question that has rankled the running world for a decade is whether the XX athletes have a chance competing against those who are intersex. Anyone competing at that level has to be a superb, well-trained athlete. Testosterone alone will not propel a runner from back of the pack to the podium.

But, according to a yearslong study from scientists working with the I.A.A.F., the extra testosterone helps, at least in shorter races. Endocrinologists agree that testosterone provides advantages that are not available to athletes with two X chromosomes. It increases the number of red blood cells, allowing more oxygen to get to muscles. It increases the size and power of skeletal muscles that produce more powerful strides.

Tim Anderson: I don't know baseball's unwritten rules

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Track and Field Tries to Understand New Rules for Intersex Athletes . But Josep Miquel Abad, the No. 2 man on the Barcelona Olympic Organizing Committee, suggested that Yugoslav athletes might be able to participate in the Games under the Olympic flag instead of their national flag.

Track and Field Tries to Understand New Rules for Intersex Athletes . Semenya won an interim ruling that suspended a recent decision requiring intersex athletes to suppress testosterone levels before competing in certain women’s track events.

Physiologists say that is why there are separate races for men and women. The best women in the world never have times as fast as those of the best men.

Track and Field Tries to Understand New Rules for Intersex Athletes © Reuters Athletics - Diamond League - Doha - Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar - May 3, 2019 South Africa's Caster Semenya and Kenya's Margaret Nyairera Wambui before the women's 800m REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari

“The tension is between having something that feels fair to everybody and trying to be liberal in accepting every given individual who is participating,” Dr. Safer said.

The reasoning behind the ruling and the regulations that will go into effect Wednesday was that, yes, it would discriminate against the rare individuals with XY chromosomes and a disorder of sexual development, also called D.S.D. The condition as defined by the ruling is extremely rare — but there are no reliable estimates on how often it occurs, Dr. Safer said.

But, defenders of the ruling say, the alternative is to discriminate against the millions of XX athletes who do not have the advantage testosterone brings — unless they inject themselves with it, which would disqualify them from races.

Gallery: When sport ends up in court (Read Sport)

Track and Field Tries to Understand New Rules for Intersex Athletes
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