Athletics has to win this battle over testosterone
Whether the Court of Arbitration for Sport will take its head from the sand on this issue is another matter, but the IAAF, athletics’ world governing body, have as good as proved that female athletes with naturally high levels of testosterone possess a competitive advantage over their rivals.
A study of 2,100 athletes will now be used to challenge a CAS ruling that the use of testosterone-lowering medicine should be suspended. If the IAAF win, as they should, it will affect the terms on which, for instance, Caster Semenya (right) competes.
the advantage in 800 metres events is measured at 1.8 per cent; the maximum gain is in the hammer throw, 4.5 per cent.
It is astonishing that some have argued testosterone levels are irrelevant. testosterone levels are what separate men and women, otherwise the entire species could race and compete side by side.
Girls play, quite comfortably, in boys’ football teams until testosterone kicks in and then the physical imbalances make this close to impossible.
It is no different in athletics. Woodford Green with essex Ladies are a decent club, but nothing remarkable.
Sally Gunnell is their only Olympic gold medallist in 109 years. their Under 17 men’s 800m record is held by Canaan Solomon, set in 2015. Solomon ran 1min 52.02sec, which would have won Semenya’s 800m women’s Olympic final in rio de Janeiro by roughly threeand-a-half seconds.
Solomon’s time wasn’t even in the top five in the schools’ category in the United Kingdom for 2015.
So testosterone is the game- changer, because of the way it builds muscle mass. If a man and a woman go to the gym and train equally, the man’s testosterone level will allow him to build muscle that is beyond the woman. this is why, for transgender individuals competing in women’s events, the IAAF sets a limit on permitted testosterone levels.
It is also why men’s events are open and women’s are closed: to protect competition. If you remove testosterone production, or female characteristics, as a factor in women’s sport — which is what CAS effectively did by setting no limit on testosterone — anyone who identifies as a woman could compete in women’s events.
Meaning Solomon, or any other very good Under 17 male club runner, could enter the women’s 800m at the next Olympics and win.
At which point women’s sport is over. to ignore testosterone as a factor, therefore, challenges the whole concept of female sport. It is the IAAF’s duty to resist.