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14 Feb, 2019 11:32

‘We don't classify them as male': IAAF on female athletes with 'sexual development disorders'

‘We don't classify them as male': IAAF on female athletes with 'sexual development disorders'

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has said that they officially do not classify female competitors with sexual development disorders as male, but stated they have an unfair advantage over women.

The world athletics governing body said in a statement on Wednesday: “The IAAF is not classifying any DSD (Differences of Sexual Development) athlete as male. To the contrary, we accept their legal sex without question, and permit them to compete in the female category."

The body confuted the idea of classifying such athletes as male, emphasizing however that testosterone reduction would be necessary to ensure fair competition in one of the most popular sports.

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The statement continued: “However if a DSD athlete has testes and male levels of testosterone, they get the same increases in bone and muscle size and strength and increases in hemoglobin that a male gets when they go through puberty, which is what gives men such a performance advantage over women.

Therefore, to preserve fair competition in the female category, it is necessary to require DSD athletes to reduce their testosterone down to female levels before they compete at international level.”

The IAAF statement came in response to a recent publication in the Times, which claimed that the body would argue at the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) that the prominent female South African runner Caster Semenya was in fact born male and should be obliged take testosterone-reducing medicine to be approved for women’s competitions.


The looming CAS hearing, which will take place next week, provoked speculation regarding Semenya’s future as according to the newly-implemented IAAF rules she would not be eligible to compete until reaching the permitted testosterone level.

The new rule, which should have come into force last November, required any female athlete with DSD to reduce blood testosterone level to below 5 nanomoles per liter to be approved to compete internationally.

The two-time Olympic champion Semenya, whose testosterone level exceeds the outlined limit, challenged the IAAF’s ruling at the CAS, claiming that the newly-introduced regulations are discriminatory and unfair.

Semenya’s legal proceedings against the IAAF prompted the body to postpone implementation of the new rule until the CAS verdict is delivered.

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