The Court Of Arbitration for Sport, highest court in International Sports, has issued a judgement, which makes it compulsory for female athletes with high level of testosterone to take suppressant, in order to compete with the other women participants in international sporting events such as Olympics.

The ruling of the court came both as a result and a failure to athlete Caster Semenya, a two-time Olympic Champion at 800 metres from South Africa. She, in June 2018, had challenged this much debated rule and was seeking to limit the permitted testosterone levels in female athletes in races over certain distances. Semenya had called this rule medically unnecessary, “discriminatory, irrational, and unjustifiable” and a violation of the rules of sport and universally recognised human rights.

Though testosterone is known to be a male hormone, even women produce a small amount of testosterone which works in combination with estrogen to help improve growth and maintenance of female reproductive tissues and bone mass.

Though testosterone is known to be a male hormone, even women produce a small amount of testosterone which works in combination with estrogen to help improve growth and maintenance of female reproductive tissues and bone mass. One of the effects of higher testosterone level in women is the increased muscular mass. Study shows that high muscular mass helps in various sport skills like changing direction, jumping and sprinting. This means women with higher testosterone levels and those with the normal level cannot compete, since it won’t be a fair competition.

The IAAF had previously argued that the game is already divided into two categories of male and female. Women with higher testosterone levels than the others have an unfair advantage and therefore, this should be limited.

Though the court agreed that the limiting the testosterone level in women is discriminatory, but it also added that such a discrimination is a “necessary, reasonable and proportionate means” of achieving track and field’s goal of preserving the integrity of women’s competition. This was a victory, though not a complete one, for the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF). The IAAF had previously argued that the game is already divided into two categories of male and female. Women with higher testosterone levels than the others have an unfair advantage and therefore, this should be limited.

Adding to this, the court also expressed its concern regarding the fact that there is lack of concrete evidence supporting the claim that differences in hormonal levels or sexual developments really do have an advantage in races of 1500 metres.

However, the court also considered some other aspects that come with this rule. It expressed its concerns regarding the practical application of testosterone limitation in the future. Many a times, there are some side effects of such treatments which may be harmful for the athletes. Plus there might be cases when even after taking in the advised amount of suppressant, the testosterone levels aren’t controlled. Adding to this, the court also expressed its concern regarding the fact that there is lack of concrete evidence supporting the claim that differences in hormonal levels or sexual developments really do have an advantage in races of 1500 metres. Considering this, the court has asked IAAF to put off the decision until proper evidence is available.

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Picture Credit- BBC

Anushika Srivastava is an Intern with SheThePeople.Tv

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