[ View the story "No games for women with 'too much' testosterone" on Storify] No games for women with 'too much' testosterone The Stream examines the controversy surrounding female testosterone testing in competitive sports.
The Stream· Wed, Sep 03 2014 16:06:45
An increase in testosterone screening among female athletes has prompted many to question current sports policies concerning gender. Female
, or a high level of androgens (male hormones), is being used as an indicator to determine whether or not an athlete is male or female in international sport competitions.
South African middle-distance runner, was subjected to testing after fellow competitors questioned her gender during the 2009 Berlin World Championship. Semenya was
to undergo invasive examinations, which resulted in an 11-month suspension.
Dorcas and Caster Semenya.mp4thankyoumamasa
In light of the controversy
Semenya’s case, international sports authorities
new guidelines to determine an athlete's testosterone levels instead of their gender
ahead of the 2012 London Olympics. The new
state that female athletes who are suspected of being male must consent to a blood test, or be banned from competition.
Critics say women with “masculine” traits or more “male-looking” physiques are often targeted by these policies. Those questioned are forced to undergo blood tests and intrusive examinations by a panel of doctors and psychologists. Female athletes with testosterone levels considered too high will be
to a “therapeutic proposal” by sports authorities.
Therapy may include invasive surgeries or hormone balancing drugs. Once levels are “normalised”, athletes may return to competing.
@AJStream Wouldn't that be illegal since it's unnatural for them? It would be a synthetic or surgical enhancement, and what is "normal?"W. Santiago
@AJStream. Hamper the health and careers of female athletes. And yet we say we accept people. And guys with naturally high estrogen?Ese
Supporters of these policies
that testing for high testosterone levels is necessary to keep athletic competitions fair. Testosterone is
to enhance strength and performance, suggesting that higher levels would create a competitive advantage.
@locke @AJStream I never thought that being natural with innate abilities would one day be termed as being unfairIkpegbu Tochukwu
that testosterone levels do not determine gender. A recent
concluded that it is common to find varying levels of testosterone in both men and women. The study also determined that from a sample of 693 elite athletes, more than 16.5 per cent had testosterone levels below average. 14 per cent of women were above the female average.
Gold medal winner Dutee Chand, in the most recent case of testosterone testing, was
from participating in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games after she reportedly failed to test within the “normal” range of testosterone levels.
Indian woman sprinter returns home after winning gold medals, receives grand welcomemeaindiafile
A month after their decision, the SAI retracted their statement, concluding that measuring testosterone levels should not interfere with an athlete’s participation in sports. They
pledged to endorse Chand’s plea to reconsider the ban, while also offering her medical intervention to reduce her testosterone levels. Chand has decided to exhaust all other options before conceding to surgery.
The Stream community expressed their thoughts on testosterone testing. Many believe the new policies are discriminatory:
@locke @AJStream How do they determine what "normal" is? This falls into the classification of GM humans, to force "normal" on everyone.W. Santiago
@AJStream Pardon my ignorance, this sound like a hypocrisy of the belief of the equality of sexes. What makes a women,feminine? #AJStreamBataung Matsau
"@locke @AJStream Because society finds it easier to question the abilities of women in doing sports. It's a role that isn't supposed to fitEse
@AJStream That's ridiculous, that's part of their normal trait which nature granted them. It's totally unfairIkpegbu Tochukwu
One community member says the policy should apply to both men and women:
@AJStream Need to consider both genders then if the testosterone argument is taken. What about male athletes with lower testosterone levels?Nakul V
Others compared testosterone "tampering" to doping:
@raisazaidi @AJStream No. Lowering is also reverse doping. One should compete with natural hormon level, no doping of any kind.Sadeen sooddo
@AJStream erm this is kind of a contradiction in terms I thought they were against promoting drug taking?Supa Dupa
Some pointed to other biological advantages in sports:
@AJStream and should athletes with naturally longer arms be forced to shorten them before they throw a javelin?Maryam Darwich
@AJStream isn't that like asking a naturally tall basketball player to get joint surgery to be shorter?Halima Mansoor