29 October, 2020

Dutee Free, But Most See Fiery Red

IAAF targets women athletes with high testosterone, sparking ethical and racist questions

South Africa’s Caster Semenya (left), the ostensible target for the rule; Dutee Chand will not be affected
Photograph by Getty Images & AP
Dutee Free, But Most See Fiery Red

The sporting world is roiled by yet another controversy. This time, it hinges on gender. The world athletics body has come up with a sensational annou­nc­ement that bars women middle distance athletes with high testosterone levels from competing at official events. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) also said that those unwilling to adh­ere to the new rule, which comes into effect from November 1, can compete in the men’s or intersex category.

As per the new rule, women athletes whose levels of circulating testosterone (in serum) is up to five nanomoles per litre can compete in ‘international competitions’; anything above that mark would automatically disqualify them from events between 400m and 1,500m, including the hurdles and combined events. However, they can reduce their testosterone levels by taking pills or undergoing surgery to be able to compete. The Sebestian Coe-headed IAAF justifies its move by saying that it wants to provide a level playing field to all athletes. The new clause doesn’t aff­ect...



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