The International Working Group for Women and Sport (IWG) joins with likeminded individuals and organisations world over to urge the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to reconsider and withdraw its recently announced ‘eligibility regulations for female classification’.
These new regulations target only females with higher levels of naturally occurring testosterone than average. The regulations focus only on women and only this one hormone as an ostensible causative factor leading to ‘unfair competitive advantage’. Organisations such as Athletics Canada, Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport (CAAWS), Women’s Sports Foundation, USA, and numerous organisations on the African continent have already rejected the imposition of the regulations.
A South African lawyer, Steve Cornelius, appointee to the IAAF Disciplinary Tribunal has resigned his post in protest to the regulations he described as ‘fundamentally flawed and, most likely, unlawful’ and the ‘warped ideology behind the regulations’. A trio of academicians, ethicists and advocates from the USA, Canada and India successfully defended Indian runner Dutee Chand against a similar disqualification in 2014/2015.
Dr. Bruce Kidd (University of Toronto), Dr. Katrina Karkazis (Yale University) and Dr. Payoshni Mitra (Jadavpur University) identify four areas of concern (along lines very similar to those raised by the policy statement of Women’s Sports Foundation): The proposed regulations 1) presume that women with higher levels of naturally occurring testosterone have unfair advantage over other women (without regard to the myriad other factors contributing to athletic success including access to coaching, proper nutrition, training, facilities, programs of competitive experience, other biogenetic characteristics, etc); 2) require women with no prior health complaint to undergo medically unnecessary interventions to lower T levels in order to continue competing; 3) women from economically challenged countries face enormous pressures to do anything to continue athletic careers; 4) only women face such scrutiny with no concern for ‘unfair advantage’ to males on any basis.
In addition to full agreement with these concerns, the IWG was troubled by the question of the precise nature of reliable scientific evidence to warrant such drastic action and the apparent rush to announce without consultation and notice to the global community of organizations dedicated to inclusive, quality sport and human rights. The International Working Group on Women and Sport will during its 7th Session of the International Women and Sport Conference host a side event to discuss this issue. The session will be held on the 20th May 2018 titled “The High T Anxiety: The Controversial New Policy of The IAAF” and will be facilitated by Dr. Payoshni Mitra, Athlete’s Rights Advocate and appointed Advisor in Dutee Chand’s case and co-facilitated by Madeleine Pape former Australian athlete, who ran with Ms. Semenya in 2008 World Championships and has testified for Dutee Chand.