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Also cross-posted on The Feminine Miss Geek.

Caster Semenya, a track star who faced intense scrutiny in 2009 after allegations of being a man. -photo by Erik Van Leeuwen

The International Olympics Committee recently released a report titled,“IOC Regulations on Female Hyperandrogenism: Games of the XXX Olympiad in London, 2012,” which dictates that three doctors (a gynecologist ,a geneticist, and an endocrinologist) will get to decide if female athletes are actually female.

Sports is one of the very few remaining social structures where sex segregation and therefore sex testing is still generally acceptable. But the problem with these specific regulations is that they are based on faulty reasoning; there is no shortage of scientists that say testosterone levels are not the defining factor for being a woman, and there is no direct correlation between androgens and performance.

What’s more disturbing is that athletes can be singled out for additional medical testing simply for looking manly.

Via Suite 101:  

Under this active policy, athletes legally living as women, but with naturally high testosterone, could be ineligible to compete in the Olympics. Moreover, anyone who deviates from the perceived norms of feminine characteristics could be subjected to additional medical testing as the report goes on to actively call for the National Olympic Committees to “actively investigate any perceived deviation in sex characteristics.”…

Genetic and bodily differences in sports are often obvious by sight: Gymnastics competitors have comparatively smaller frames than weightlifters. Taller women make better basketball players than short women. Michael Phelps has an unusually large torso and armspan, hypermobile joints, and is exceptionally close to the clinical levels of Marfan’s Syndrome.

There is no logically consistent reason to partition these genetic advantages from androgen levels and competitively strip a significant portion of female athletes their gender title.

The article gets more into citations from medical and ethical experts, saying the available scientific data does not back these IOC policies. If we must have two sex categories, then the process needs to be a more comprehensive process than three doctors comparing hormone levels to numbers on a chart.

And as far as I know, there are no policies for men that have “sub-male” levels testosterone. It’s a disturbingly unfair set of regulations that anyone caring about gender issues, sports, and basic fairness should complain about.

I’m not sure if this is the most direct way (comment if you have current contact info for the IOC), but the contact info for London Games-related complaints is:

“By phone
Call us on 0808 197 2012. Hours of operation are Monday to Sunday 9am–6pm.

By email
Email us at [email protected] or by using the web form below.

In writing
Write to us at: Complaints, Communication and Public Affairs, The London 2012 Organising Committee, 23rd floor, 1 Churchill Place, London, E14 5LN.”

Read more at Suite101: IOC Androgen Rules Unfairly Target “Manly” Female Athletes