Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The new IOC and IAAF policies on female eligibility: old Emperor, new clothes?

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-04-26, 16:31 authored by Paul Davis, Lisa Edwards

 The Caster Semenya debacle touched off by the 2009 Berlin World Athletics Championships resulted finally in IOC and IAAF abandonment of sex testing, which gave way to procedures that make female competition eligibility dependent upon the level of serum testosterone, which must be below the male range or instrumentally countered by androgen resistance. We argue that the new policy is unsustainable because (i) the testosterone-performance connection it posits is uncompelling; (ii) testosterone-induced female advantage is not ipso facto unfair advantage; (iii) the new policy reflects the gender policing impulses endemic to sport as well as the broader cultural impulses to monstrify women and to doctor women who have nothing wrong with them; (iv) female–male performance disparities are not the only reason for sex-segregated sport, but co-exist with respectable cultural and practical reasons, which (v) provide a powerful case for allowing athletes to compete in the sex category congruent with their gender identity. 


Published in

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy


Taylor & Francis


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)


Davis, P. and Edwards, L. (2014) 'The new IOC and IAAF policies on female eligibility: old Emperor, new clothes?', Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, 8(1), pp.44-56

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

Lisa Edwards

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Philosophy and Ethics in Sport

Copyright Holder

  • © The Publisher


  • en

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