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'Gender-Benders': Sports and Sex Determination

1992 Winter Olympics and thanks to this test, about 500-600 athletes were discovered to be far from 'normal'. Recent Sex Determination tests also involve a detailed evaluation by a panel of gynaecologists, endocrinologists and specialists in internal medicine.

Of late, however, gender testing has come under fire from members of the medical community, such as the geneticists and the endocrinologists, who accuse these tests to be gender- biased and unfair to women born with rare genetic abnormalities and who have sexual developmental deficiencies involving the gonads and the external genitalia. Several others opine that these tests are inaccurate, besides being insensitive and humiliating. The sex determination tests cannot lay claim to being absolutely fair as they failed to 'expose' the mighty and the famous. Princess Anne who was a member of the United Kingdom's equestrian team in the 1970's was shielded from public scrutiny when she was exempted from a gender determining tests.

Intersex and Olympic Games: Sex determination was carried out till the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and has been discontinued by the IOC, since 1999.The International Association of Athlete Federation (IAAF), had stopped conducting these tests way back in 1991. New rules permit athletes born with ambiguous genitalia ( a condition medically called Intersex ), who have undergone a sex reassignment surgery and who have been legally recognized as either male or female, to participate in the Olympic Games. These athletes also need to undergo two years of hormonal therapy.

The Olympic Council of Asia, however, continues with the practice of gender- testing. Santhi Sounderajan, the Indian middle-distance runner who bagged a silver medal in the 800 m event at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, was stripped of her medal when she failed the sex-determination test.

We are now living in an era when sports can be equated to exorbitance, with global banner
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