IAAF regulations for female athletes

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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#101  Postby I'm With Stupid » May 04, 2019 7:23 pm

Ironclad wrote:Paywall

Not for me. But I wouldn't worry. There was nothing that hasn't already been said far more articulately in plenty of other places including on this thread.
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#102  Postby Thommo » May 04, 2019 7:55 pm

Semenya is an in­cred­ibly powerful runner from South Africa, a two-time Olympic champion. She has also been the subject of controversy since the beginning of her career a decade ago. Semenya is believed to have an intersex condition, though she doesn’t publicly speak about it: Her body allegedly produces testosterone at a higher level than most women. On Wednesday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that if Semenya wanted to continue to compete, she would be required to take medications to lower it.


A point made elsewhere, e.g. here:
It’s absolutely mind-boggling that virtually every major outlet in the world reporting the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling yesterday has failed to mention one of the most important facts of the entire case. Caster Semenya has XY chromosomes. It was generally accepted by people following the case closely that Semenya was XY, but now it’s been confirmed as fact since the CAS press release specifically says, “The DSD covered by the Regulations are limited to athletes with ’46 XY DSD’ – i.e. conditions where the affected individual has XY chromosomes.” If she wasn’t XY, the IAAF’s regulations wouldn’t apply to her and she’d have no reason to challenge them.


Is that Semenya has effectively confirmed that she has the same sex chromosomes as a typical male and that her testosterone is well outside the range a typical XX woman could ever achieve (around 1 nmol/litre to 2 nmol/litre apparently), since the ruling simply would not apply if she did not.

She is categorically not a cheat, and categorically is a great athlete, but her body produces natural testosterone well outside the normal range for women, it appears it does this in the same way that other people with XY chromosomes do, via the testes.

It is a real personal tragedy for the various intersex runners (there are allegedly several at that distance currently) if they have to change their bodies or be excluded from the women's category, and I have to admit I don't relish the fact that a huge number of their competitors for fastest women's 800m times are suspected or proven drug cheats, and it is those women who are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of the ruling.
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#103  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 04, 2019 8:06 pm

Thommo wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:I wasn't talking about gender, but about sex. And when you exclude people because their natural traits make them better at sport than others, you're discriminating on an irrational basis imo.


Then you cannot have women's sport.

Care to elaborate?
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#104  Postby Thommo » May 04, 2019 8:11 pm

Thomas Eshuis wrote:
Thommo wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:I wasn't talking about gender, but about sex. And when you exclude people because their natural traits make them better at sport than others, you're discriminating on an irrational basis imo.


Then you cannot have women's sport.

Care to elaborate?


Women's sport is sport that men are excluded from because their natural traits make them better at it, by intention and by definition.
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#105  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 04, 2019 8:12 pm

Rachel Bronwyn wrote:I hate that it's even being discussed because it's personal and, were it not for her competing in female sport, would be no one's damn business.

What it sounds like may be the case is she's 46, XY. She's male. Her body isn't entirely sensitive to the androgens she produces like testosterone though so she never developed external male genitalia and her testes never descended while she did develop breast tissue upon puberty The result is a male person born with a female phenotype. Androgen insensitive folks don't have female reproductive tracts or female chromosomes. They're male.


https://www.newstatesman.com/future-proof/2015/02/sex-isn-t-chromosomes-story-century-misconceptions-about-x-y
Sex isn’t chromosomes: the story of a century of misconceptions about X & Y

The influence of the XX/XY model of chromosomal sex has been profound over the last century, but it’s founded on faulty premises and responsible for encouraging reductive, essentialist thinking. While the scientific world has moved on, its popular appeal remains.
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#106  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 04, 2019 8:12 pm

Thommo wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
Thommo wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:I wasn't talking about gender, but about sex. And when you exclude people because their natural traits make them better at sport than others, you're discriminating on an irrational basis imo.


Then you cannot have women's sport.

Care to elaborate?


Women's sport is sport that men are excluded from because their natural traits make them better at it, by intention and by definition.

Except we're not talking about discriminating against men within women's sport, we're talking about discriminating against some women within women's sport.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#107  Postby aban57 » May 04, 2019 8:14 pm

We need to amputate the legs of any basketball player above 1m90. It gives them an unfair advantage.
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#108  Postby Thommo » May 04, 2019 8:20 pm

Thomas Eshuis wrote:
Thommo wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
Thommo wrote:

Then you cannot have women's sport.

Care to elaborate?


Women's sport is sport that men are excluded from because their natural traits make them better at it, by intention and by definition.

Except we're not talking about discriminating against men within women's sport, we're talking about discriminating against some women within women's sport.


Can you just specify the exact criteria by which you're deciding who is a man and who is a woman for the purposes of this distinction?

The only clarification I can find in your posts so far is that it has nothing to do with gender identity.
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#109  Postby GrahamH » May 04, 2019 9:05 pm

Thommo wrote:
Is that Semenya has effectively confirmed that she has the same sex chromosomes as a typical male and that her testosterone is well outside the range a typical XX woman could ever achieve (around 1 nmol/litre to 2 nmol/litre apparently), since the ruling simply would not apply if she did not.


But she is not typically male, and if she has androgen insensitivity her body does not respond typically to hormones.

Chromosome sex testing was dropped by the IAAF because it wasn't adequate
Chromosome testing was introduced by the International Olympic Committee during the 1968 Summer Olympics.[9] This tested for the Y-chromosome, and was designed to identify males potentially disguised as females. This method of testing was later abolished, as it was shown to be inconclusive in identifying maleness.[10]
The International Association of Athletics Federations ceased sex screening for all athletes in 1992,[11] but retained the option of assessing the sex of a participant should suspicions arise. A resolution was passed at the 1996 International Olympic Committee (IOC) World Conference on Women and Health "to discontinue the current process of gender verification during the Olympic Games". The International Olympic Committee's board voted to discontinue the practice in June 1999.[12] Chromosome testing was last performed at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_verif ... me_testing


So having XY chromosomes is not the core issue here.

The issue is fairness in sporting competition, which is a minefield.

There are range of expert opinions here
https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expe ... ne-levels/

Here's one of the strong criticisms:

“The IAAF DSD regulations that CAS has decided to uphold are arbitrary, inconsistent and un-evidenced. They apply only to female athletes with 46 XY DSD whose testosterone levels can fall within the male range, which means that only women who have XY chromosomes are affected. Yet, there are many conditions in which a female athlete who has XX chromosomes might also have testosterone levels in the male range, but these women are (rightly) allowed to compete without medical intervention. Targeting athletes with 46 XY DSD specifically is unjust and arbitrary.
“Additionally, as the CAS panel acknowledged, there is insufficient evidence to support the theoretical idea upon which the regulations are built; namely, that athletes with 46 XY DSD have a significant enough advantage due to their testosterone levels to justify excluding them from the female classification especially in events over the distance of 1500m to 1 mile, and the evidence that does exist has been widely criticised including on methodological grounds.


It's complicated.
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#110  Postby GrahamH » May 04, 2019 9:10 pm

And there's this which, on a brief scan, seems very concerning regarding the evidence base.

In that regard, there is not a single well controlled study on 46 XY DSDs that looks at performance benefits. There is one study that looks at how the performances of THREE athletes declines when they lower T either with medicines or through surgical removal of testes. That suggests 5%. This is interesting, and compelling, aside from the fact that there are only three athletes in the group, and it’s limited to observation without any level of control over crucial confounding factors. More numbers, and better control over confounding factors would shift the needle a lot in favour of the concept of performance advantage in DSDs.
The other study is the infamous original Bermon & Garnier paper where the IAAF took its female athletes and related their performances to their T levels. This is the one we called for to be retracted, because we felt it was that bad, as I discuss below.

https://sportsscientists.com/2019/05/on ... r-semenya/
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#111  Postby Rachel Bronwyn » May 05, 2019 12:11 am

GrahamH wrote:
Thommo wrote:
Is that Semenya has effectively confirmed that she has the same sex chromosomes as a typical male and that her testosterone is well outside the range a typical XX woman could ever achieve (around 1 nmol/litre to 2 nmol/litre apparently), since the ruling simply would not apply if she did not.


But she is not typically male, and if she has androgen insensitivity her body does not respond typically to hormones.


With respect to her running ability, she responds exactly as predicted to testosterone levels.

She may be somewhat androgen insensitive but she certainly isn't entirely. Some people have total androgen insensitivity and are not affected in any way by the testosterone produced by their testes. They have very typical female phenotypes. The heightened testosterone levels they have don't affect them. These women are biologically male but have none of the physical advantages of maleness. There is no reason people who are phenotypically female should compete against males.

This whole unfortunate debacle kicked off though because, well, Semenya doesn't have a typical female phenotype. She is largely influenced by the testosterone she produces.

She's not typically male but she's certainly not typically female. If people with male DNA and the athletic advantages that come with it are deemed sufficiently not-male to compete against females, there's not much point in people without any male physical advantages trying to compete against them. If people with male athletic advantage are permitted to compete as female against females, the entire point of female sport is undermined.
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#112  Postby Thommo » May 05, 2019 12:33 am

I agree Rachel, you have to find a dividing line. One can think Semenya is on one side of that line or the other, but one is still drawing a line - at some point someone is too influenced by male-type competitive advantage to compete with women who have none. And at some point that line is going to have to consider people like McKinnon as well.

It is extremely difficult to rule on intersex* and transgender athletes all with a single rule, which is where the arbitration has come in. They have largely tried (perhaps, arguably, not entirely successfully, or unsuccesfully) to establish when there is a sex-based competitive advantage in particular sporting events. For women partially insensitive to androgens the competitive advantage of testosterone has been held to be significant. For women completely insensitive to androgens the competitive advantage of testosterone has been held not to be significant.

I admit that I don't know enough about biology to really take those conclusions to task, but they are certainly logically comprehensible and consistent. I do not consider the criticism they are arbitrary to be meaningful as inclusion would also be made on an arbitrary basis (this is, after all, exactly what the court of arbitration for sport does).

*Not least because the variety amongst intersex people, even whilst being a small proportion overall (about 0.01% to 0.1% apparently) is still quite large, with XX, XXY, XYY, XY partial androgen insensitivity, XY complete androgen insensitivity, mosaics and more all requiring separate consideration and possibly analysis.

ETA: I have also seen it reported in a number of places that one of the experts who testified on her behalf believes that the rule change would cost her up to about 7 seconds on the 800m, which is colossal. It remains to be seen whether she competes with reduced testosterone and if she does whether it turns out that it was giving her such an advantage. Those might be salient facts. Although they would not address all the arguments made in her favour.
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#113  Postby GrahamH » May 05, 2019 9:08 am

Rachel Bronwyn wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
Thommo wrote:
Is that Semenya has effectively confirmed that she has the same sex chromosomes as a typical male and that her testosterone is well outside the range a typical XX woman could ever achieve (around 1 nmol/litre to 2 nmol/litre apparently), since the ruling simply would not apply if she did not.


But she is not typically male, and if she has androgen insensitivity her body does not respond typically to hormones.


With respect to her running ability, she responds exactly as predicted to testosterone levels.


There seems to be considerable controversy on the science of what advantage she may gain. The IAAF's own studies seem to show that some women with higher levels perform worse than those with "normal" levels, so what is the "exact" advantage this particular woman has? Does anyone know?



Rachel Bronwyn wrote:She may be somewhat androgen insensitive but she certainly isn't entirely. Some people have total androgen insensitivity and are not affected in any way by the testosterone produced by their testes. They have very typical female phenotypes. The heightened testosterone levels they have don't affect them. These women are biologically male but have none of the physical advantages of maleness. There is no reason people who are phenotypically female should compete against males.

This whole unfortunate debacle kicked off though because, well, Semenya doesn't have a typical female phenotype. She is largely influenced by the testosterone she produces.

She's not typically male but she's certainly not typically female. If people with male DNA and the athletic advantages that come with it are deemed sufficiently not-male to compete against females, there's not much point in people without any male physical advantages trying to compete against them. If people with male athletic advantage are permitted to compete as female against females, the entire point of female sport is undermined.


Elite athletes are not typical people. The people at the top of their sport are naturally exceptions to the norm in some sense or other.

I agree there's an issue there but I think it's more complex that what chromsomes someone has, what their genitalia are like or what level of hormone is in their blood.


As I read it people with "male DNA" don't automatically have an athletic advantage.

This is an interesting perspective:

The Myth of Testosterone
It is not the “male sex hormone,” nor is it the key to athletic performance. Why do we insist otherwise?

Nevertheless, the International Association of Athletics Federations president, Seb Coe, gave reason for worry when asked whether he would delay the regulations for the 1,500-meter and the mile races — regulated events for which the court said there was no evidence of a difference in performance among athletes with different testosterone levels.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/03/opin ... menya.html
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#114  Postby nunnington » May 05, 2019 9:33 am

Wasn't Ross Tucker saying that a mooted testosterone advantage seemed to apply in 5 out of 22 events in women's sport? How does that work? I thought that the pole vault showed a big advantage for high T women, but that will not be regulated. I can see why Semenya supporters are arguing that the regs are directed at her.
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#115  Postby GrahamH » May 05, 2019 9:43 am

Thommo wrote: For women partially insensitive to androgens the competitive advantage of testosterone has been held to be significant.


Do you have a reference to the evidence behind that because it seems to be controversial?

Thommo wrote:
ETA: I have also seen it reported in a number of places that one of the experts who testified on her behalf believes that the rule change would cost her up to about 7 seconds on the 800m, which is colossal.



A couple of note of caution on that. Handicapping any athlete isn't likely to bring them so some hypothetical mean level they would bet at without their natural traits. Shorten Usain Bolt's legs to the sports mean and you wouldn't expect him to start competing at the mean level, would you? Similarly, raise Phelps' lactic acid levels and it wouldn't be surprising if he was multiple seconds slower than the mean.

Also, that number can only be an estimate.

Tucker says there is not enough evidence of the effect.

It seems weel established that testosterone typically has effects that make sense as performance benefits, but how well is it understood as it applies in this case? Is the science actually settled and the experts saying otherwise are wrong?
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#116  Postby GrahamH » May 05, 2019 9:54 am

More complexity:

The results confirmed many suppositions such as basketball players being tall, weightlifters short and cross-country skiers light. The hormone profiles were more surprising with remarkably low testosterone and free T3 (tri-iodothyronine) in male powerlifters and high oestradiol, SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) and prolactin in male track and field athletes. Low testosterone concentrations were seen 25.4% of male elite competitors in 12 of the 15 sports and high testosterone concentrations in 4.8% of female elite athletes in 3 of the 8 sports tested. Interpretation of the results is more difficult; some of the differences between sports are at least partially due to differences in age of the athletes but the apparent differences between sports remain significant after adjusting for age. The prevalence of ‘hyperandrogenism’ (as defined by the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) and IOC (International Olympic Committee)) amongst this cohort of 231 elite female athletes was the highest so far recorded and the very high prevalence of ‘hypoandrogenism’ in elite male athletes a new finding.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.11 ... 017-0050-3


Should there be testing for abnormal hormone levels in all athletes including men? Is it all rather missing the point?
Is low testosterone an unfair advantage in male track and field?
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#117  Postby Scot Dutchy » May 05, 2019 10:03 am

Well the robot Olympics are not far away; sex wont matter is will be classed by hormone and other drug levels. Finding names for each category will be difficult. "The world champion at testosterone level xx" just does not have a certain ring anymore.
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#118  Postby nunnington » May 05, 2019 10:53 am

GrahamH wrote:
Thommo wrote: For women partially insensitive to androgens the competitive advantage of testosterone has been held to be significant.


Do you have a reference to the evidence behind that because it seems to be controversial?

Thommo wrote:
ETA: I have also seen it reported in a number of places that one of the experts who testified on her behalf believes that the rule change would cost her up to about 7 seconds on the 800m, which is colossal.



A couple of note of caution on that. Handicapping any athlete isn't likely to bring them so some hypothetical mean level they would bet at without their natural traits. Shorten Usain Bolt's legs to the sports mean and you wouldn't expect him to start competing at the mean level, would you? Similarly, raise Phelps' lactic acid levels and it wouldn't be surprising if he was multiple seconds slower than the mean.

Also, that number can only be an estimate.

Tucker says there is not enough evidence of the effect.

It seems weel established that testosterone typically has effects that make sense as performance benefits, but how well is it understood as it applies in this case? Is the science actually settled and the experts saying otherwise are wrong?


I thought Tucker was saying that there is little evidence of the effects of T on DSD women athletes, partly because of low numbers. It seems odd to fix on Semenya, and say that she shows an effect, therefore we need a regulation, to block her. Although there are rumours that many DSD athletes have competed in the past. How would we know?

I can't remember if it's Tucker who also points out ethical issues, that is, is Semenya expected to receive medication from a doctor, when she is not ill? I guess that some doctors will do it.
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#119  Postby GrahamH » May 05, 2019 12:08 pm

Tucker can be interpreted several ways that could seem contradictory.

According to the world-renowned sports scientist Ross Tucker, the effect will be significant on athletes such as Semenya. “If this policy passes, then I would predict that Semenya will be five to seven seconds slower over 800 metres,” he wrote.


Thommo seems to take that to mean that she has an unfair advantage of 7 secinds due to her naturally high levels. But Tucker may be saying that the treatment to reduce her testosterone to the limit would have a disproportionate and unfair effect.
Then again he says the evidence isn't there to show the advantage yet he could be seen to be putting a number to it so it's not clear.
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Re: IAAF regulations for female athletes

#120  Postby collecemall » May 16, 2019 1:28 am

Even with the rule changes I'm not sure it's fair. You have athlete's that have had testes pouring T into their bodies for YEARS that still have benefits from that. Regardless of what their current T levels are. They have built musculature and circulatory systems that don't go away just by dropping the T level for competition. I don't know how they easily regulate any of it but it sure seems like there should be some way to level the playing field for women.
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