Track Athletes Face Controversial New Gender Rules

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 2.14.14 PM.png

A new development in the divisive debate about whether hyperandrogenic women, that is women who have unusually high levels of natural testosterone, should be allowed to compete against non-hyperandronenic woman has raised questions in the track and field community. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced new eligibility requirements for athletes competing in middle distance events from the 400-meters to the mile at international competitions stating that runners with naturally elevated T levels must reduce blood testosterone levels through hormonal contraceptives to meet new requirements. 

The announcement isn't an entirely new develoment, rather it's a resurrection of regulations imposed in 2011. However, athletes challenged the first iteration of the regulation citing a lack of evidence of the performance-enhancing effects of testosterone. 

While the IAAF maintains that the “regulations exist solely to ensure fair and meaningful competition within the female classification, for the benefit of the broad class of female athletes,” critics say the new position is  "a glib masking of what ultimately amounts to further discrimination."  citing certain portions of the regulations that are not backed by recent studies and specifically target certain female athletes of color from the global south, such as Caster Semenya.

Outside Magazine dives into the shaky scientific foundations of the new rules, the history behind the debate, and future controversy surrounding the decision.