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Proposed testosterone testing of some female olympians challenged by Stanford scientists
Date:6/13/2012

have an X and a Y, there are actually too many variations on chromosomal markers to use the test accurately in all cases. While it is uncommon for women to have a Y chromosome, it does occur in a small number of women.

What's more, regardless of chromosomes, female anatomy and physiology vary in ways that may make it difficult to quickly classify a person as male or female. There are individuals with intersex traits who are born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn't fit the typical definitions of female or male.

The new polices for testosterone testing arose from the controversy surrounding South African runner Caster Semenya, who won a gold medal in the women's 800 meters at the 2009 World Championships. After complaints from competitors that she was "too masculine" including the comment that, "These kinds of people should not run with us... For me, she is not a woman. She is a man" she was forced to undergo tests that turned a private question of personal identity into a humiliating and distressful public spectacle. The IAAF ultimately ruled that Semenya is eligible to compete as a woman, but the experience led the organization to issue new rules when the sex of an athlete is questioned. The IOC is considering adopting these rules, or some variation of them, in time for the London Games this summer.

The IAAF policies state that female athletes with unusually high testosterone levels, a condition known as hyperandrogenism, will be banned from competition unless they undergo surgery or take drugs to lower their levels. "The new regulations rest on the assumption that androgenic hormones (such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone) are the primary components of biologic athletic advantage," the authors write. In practice, the policies focus specifically on testosterone, they added.

Under the IAAF rules, all female athletes with a condition leading to hyperandrogenism must report this knowledge to sporting authoritie
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Contact: Tracie White
traciew@stanford.edu
650-723-7628
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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