IAAF to argue that Caster Semenya should classified as a “biological male" at CAS (Update: Semenya loses case) [See Staff Post]

Blue Lou

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,131
IAAF = International Association of Athletics Federations
CAS = Court of Arbitration for Sport

Caster Semenya, the Olympic women’s 800m champion, should be classified as a “biological male” who identifies as female, lawyers for athletics’ international body the IAAF will tell a court next week.

The five-day hearing at the Court of Arbitration of Sport is seen as a landmark case surrounding athletes with “differences of sexual development” (DSD), and is also likely to have an influence on the rules surrounding transgender athletes taking part in women’s competition.
 
Staff Post: Concerning site policy on the discussion surrounding athletes

Finale Fireworker

Love each other or die trying.
Administrator
Oct 25, 2017
5,433
ResetEra
A reminder from the last thread:

Official Staff Communication
There is a study by Joanna Harper on transgender athletes' performance versus cisgender athletes' performance that was published in the Journal of Sporting Cultures and Identities in 2015. This was the first-ever-study of transgender athletes, according to the Washington Post. The study showed that as testosterone levels approach female norms, trans women experience a decrease in muscle mass, bone density and other physical characteristics.

Furthermore, the IOC has already set the standard for guidelines on transgender athletes:
In 2015, IOC invited Harper to attend its Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism held in Lausanne, Switzerland. After 3 days, the panel of scientists and physicians converged on revised rules for transgender competitors, including at least 1 year of hormone replacement therapy for female competitors, rather than the 2 years previously required. That change was a nod to Harper's personal transition experience and to research published in 2004 in the European Journal of Endocrinology showing that the testosterone levels—and therefore performance—of 19 transgender women stabilized after 12 months of hormone therapy. The revised IOC policy also lifted the requirement for sex reassignment surgery. That decision was a long time coming, Harper says. "What your genitals are doesn't make a difference."
You can read the full study for yourself here. (Warning: this does open a PDF document!)

You can also read the story about Joanna Harper and the research involved in Science Magazine.

There is also additional studies to collaborate the original study. As mentioned in this article in Cosmos Magazine:
...a Dutch study in the European Journal of Endocrinology, which found that within a year after gender-reassignment surgery, trans women had testosterone and haemoglobin levels no higher than their female-born compatriots. That’s important because high testosterone is associated with masculine levels of muscle mass and strength, while high haemoglobin is associated with greater aerobic capacity and therefore speed.
You can read the full study for yourself here.

Another study, called Sport and Transgender People: A Systematic Review of the Literature Relating to Sport Participation and Competitive Sport Policies, that was published in 2017 came to the same exact conclusion as these two others:

Currently, there is no direct or consistent research suggesting transgender female individuals (or male individuals) have an athletic advantage at any stage of their transition (e.g. cross-sex hormones, gender-confirming surgery) and, therefore, competitive sport policies that place restrictions on transgender people need to be considered and potentially revised.
You can read the full study for yourself here.

Based on the established criteria by the International Olympics Committee, their panel of expert scientists and physicians, and the study by Joanna Harper, and the collaborating studies, Resetera policy is that anyone concern posting about genetic advantages by transgender women in competitive sports or claiming transgender women have genetic advantages will be treated as transphobia and/or spreading misinformation on a sensitive issue and moderated appropriately. We have no interest in allowing ignorance to thrive in these threads, nor do we wish to place an undue burden on our transgender community to educate people in threads like these. This policy will be enforced from this post onward and in any future threads or posts on this subject.

If you have questions on this modpost or policy, please contact one of our mod captains (B-Dubs, Mist, Hecht) directly. Thanks.
 
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MikeRahl

Member
Oct 27, 2017
251
I have never understood why people make a big of deal as this as they do (well... I mean I do understand why some people do but I don't understand why it matters). She is female, she should compete with other females. The idea from some that there is a long-list of sinister male athletes chomping at the bit for these flood gates to open so they can refer to themselves as females in and win against females in competitions is the most disingenuous and demeaning thing I can pretty much think of.

What are federations going to start doing, screening all athletes so that they are 'normal' enough to compete? Some people are going to be better at certain competitions than others based solely on genetics and nothing else. Eero Mantryanta comes to mind as someone who probably would have dominated due to his families specific genetic mutation even if he wasn't doped to the gills.
 

Cas

Avenger
Oct 27, 2017
3,272
Is Caster being separated because of Hyperandrogenism?
Seems the argument is that they have too much testosterone naturally due to hyperandrogenism or an intersex condition and should take medication to lower it to keep in line with the other competitors. The rule was suspended by CAS in 2015 and the IAAF was given 2 years to come back with evidence to change it. Some of the other runners from the 2016 Olympics were really upset that the rule was suspended. In 2018 the IAAF reintroduced the rule, and I guess this is the argument they're bringing back to CAS.

Anyways, some articles about the new rule and runners reactions from the last Olympics:
https://www.iaaf.org/news/press-release/eligibility-regulations-for-female-classifica
https://en.as.com/en/2018/06/28/other_sports/1530214711_396190.html
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/olympics/rio-2016-caster-semenyas-800m-win-lynsey-sharp-tears-intersex-debate-a7202251.html
https://www.irishmirror.ie/sport/other-sport/athletics/tearful-lynsey-sharp-claims-difficult-8679335


edit: I should note that the new rules seem to follow the same rules that IOC has now implemented for 2022. Testosterone levels must be below 5 nmol/L. Typical levels of testosterone in women varies depending on their age and menstrual cycle, but is anywhere between 0.52–2.4 nmol/L.
 
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Kirblar

Member
Oct 25, 2017
23,012
I have never understood why people make a big of deal as this as they do (well... I mean I do understand why some people do but I don't understand why it matters). She is female, she should compete with other females. The idea from some that there is a long-list of sinister male athletes chomping at the bit for these flood gates to open so they can refer to themselves as females in and win against females in competitions is the most disingenuous and demeaning thing I can pretty much think of.

What are federations going to start doing, screening all athletes so that they are 'normal' enough to compete? Some people are going to be better at certain competitions than others based solely on genetics and nothing else. Eero Mantryanta comes to mind as someone who probably would have dominated due to his families specific genetic mutation even if he wasn't doped to the gills.
The underlying issue is that women have their own competitive division in most sports first and foremost because the sex hormone testosterone is also an anabolic steroid that leads to top female athletes being unable to compete with top male ones in most sports due to the gigantic gaps in physical strength that result. (An example: the US women's Olympic hockey team will scrimmage against top HS boy's teams in order to get practice against skiled opposition at a similar strength level.) As kids boys and girls produce different amounts but it's not all that big a gap. But once puberty starts, those ratios change dramatically and lead to the dramatically different strength/muscle ratios in adult athletes.

This is why female trans athletes are required to be under hormone replacement therapy while competing, and why the baseline need for some form of it is generally considered a given by all parties involved. For male trans athletes, the virtual lack of advantages to female hormones in athletic competition allows them to jump right in even if they haven't started yet, and why the concerns there would be more on making sure their HRT is keeping their new baseline hormones at a level that's not unreasonably high for an adult male, just as you would for a cis male competitor on TRT.
Is Caster being separated because of Hyperandrogenism?
The article at the top states that the argument specifically refers to physical testes overall, which would be a wider bucket including things like Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome.
 

GameShrink

Member
Oct 29, 2017
2,547
I'd love to see a study of how trans women athletes perform on average compared to biologically female ones.

I think what makes this situation appear complex is that we only hear about trans athletes when they win, which gives the false impression that trans women are constantly beating their biologically female competitors. I'd bet people would be less into these sorts of regulations if they knew just how often trans women compete and lose.
 

Kirblar

Member
Oct 25, 2017
23,012
I'd love to see a study of how trans women athletes perform on average compared to biologically female ones.

I think what makes this situation appear complex is that we only hear about trans athletes when they win, which gives the false impression that trans women are constantly beating their biologically female competitors. I'd bet people would be less into these sorts of regulations if they knew just how often trans women compete and lose.
Prior thread pulled out one of the charts from the studies- https://www.resetera.com/threads/usa-powerlifting-bans-all-trans-women-from-competing-as-women-read-op.97448/page-8#post-17563908 . It's a very very limited data set comparing muscle mass with trans men and women before and after HRT, but it's at least something.

The thing about high level competitive athletes is that they're a small subset of the population, and high level athletes who transition and still compete post-transition is going to be an even smaller subset of that subset, making it hard to get any type of broad dataset.
 

Cas

Avenger
Oct 27, 2017
3,272
My understanding was that the IOC rules were more lenient than the ruling in the OP, but I might be misreading it.
I'm having trouble finding the exact IOC wording for their guidelines, but news articles are referencing the same testosterone rules. Both the IOC and IAAF will be restricting testosterone levels in female competitors to 5 nmol/L. For reference, typical levels of testosterone in women varies depending on their age and menstrual cycle, but is anywhere between 0.52–2.4 nmol/L.
 

Kirblar

Member
Oct 25, 2017
23,012
This seems much more like "we are trying to unify the rules for intersex/trans athletes" thing than anything else.

The issue (I think) that's going to come up is that if, for example, someone has AIS (not CAIS), I would assume that a reduction in testosterone to levels appropriate to trans/cis athletes without the condition might result in them effectively having lower levels than their competition because of the nature of the condition. On the flip side, high testeorone levels could leave them with higher effective levels than their competition without treatment. And I'm assuming we don't really have a specific test to measure how responsive someone is in order to adjust the guidelines on a person to person basis in these specific circumstances.
 
OP
OP
Blue Lou

Blue Lou

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,131
The decision is expected today.

ATHLETICS

CAS ARBITRATION: CASTER SEMENYA, ATHLETICS SOUTH AFRICA (ASA) AND INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ATHLETICS FEDERATIONS (IAAF):
DECISION UPDATE

Lausanne, 29 April 2019 – The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will announce the decision in the case involving the South African athlete Caster Semenya, Athletics South Africa (ASA) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on 1 May 2019 at 12:00 (CEST) by way of a media release published on the CAS website.
 
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Working yet?

Member
Oct 31, 2017
1,647
Caster Semenya loses landmark legal case against IAAF over testosterone levels
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/may/01/caster-semenya-loses-landmark-legal-case-iaaf-athletics
Caster Semenya has lost her landmark legal case against athletics’ governing body, the IAAF, which means she will have to take medication to reduce her testosterone if she wants to keep running on the international stage.
It added: “The panel found that the DSD Regulations are discriminatory but that, on the basis of the evidence submitted by the parties, such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics in the Restricted Events.”
 
Dec 5, 2018
918
They might as well separate blacks from whites while they're at it to give white people a chance at winning a medal.

What about a ginger league too?
 

Juicy Bob

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,825
I have no informed comment on this complex and sensitive matter to give, other than that I feel immense sympathy for Semenya.

It's awful that an athlete of her caliber is having to contend with this just to be able to continue to compete at an elite level.
 

Working yet?

Member
Oct 31, 2017
1,647
Is this in line with the study the mod post referes to? Like, a transgendered women that has lower testosterone then male counterparts, lose muscle mass etc?
Their reasoning is as follows:
Central to its case was that over 99% of females have around 0.12-1.79 nmol/L of testosterone in their bodies – while DSDs like Semenya are in the male range of 7.7-29.4 nmol/L.
The IAAF’s argument was that because testosterone confers significant advantages in size, strength and power from puberty onwards, it was fair to require DSD athletes to reduce their testosterone to below five nmol/L for at least six months if they wanted to compete internationally at distances ranging from 400m to a mile.
So I would assume that the issue is that she has significantly higher proportions of testosterone, regardless, unlike the typical transgender athlete?
She should just quit in protest. It's ridiculous that they're using her like a scapegoat. Totally disgusting behaviour and they even admit they're discriminating against her.
I was actually wondering if any athletes may boycott in protest. Interestingly, however, in South Africa contrast is drawn between discrimination and differentiation. I think the IAAF may have rationalised this case similarly.
 

fanboi

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
2,729
Sweden
Their reasoning is as follows:


So I would assume that the issue is that she has significantly higher proportions of testosterone, regardless, unlike the typical transgender athlete?

I was actually wondering if any athletes may boycott in protest. Interestingly, however, in South Africa contrast is drawn between discrimination and differentiation. I think the IAAF may have rationalised this case similarly.
Thanks!
 

KarneeKarnay

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,904
I'm confused. If she isn't trans, why are they enforcing hormone blockers? You don't penalise Michael Phelps for having a genetic advantage over other swimmers. Why should she be penalised for something she has no control over.
 

Kiekura

Member
Mar 23, 2018
1,377
Disgusting decision.

Will they be testing all female athletes regarding their testosterone levels or does that already happen?
Ofc there are tests. Just look how much bigger her TRT levels are compared to others.

They might as well separate blacks from whites while they're at it to give white people a chance at winning a medal.

What about a ginger league too?
That difference is abysmal. These differences in TRT levels are actually really big.

And yeah this sucks for Caster, but i also understand why they are doing this. She has so huge advantage
 

MrOblong

Member
Oct 27, 2017
40
User Banned (1 Week): Ignoring staffpost
The root of this is that we have different sporting competitions, divided on the basis of sex. Anything that introduces ambiguous (or plural) categorisation will run into these issues.

I have a lot of sympathy for Caster, who is simply living her life and has done a great job of being freaking fast. Where can she run, and on what basis can that be fairly decided whilst still adhering to the concept of differentiated competition aiming to avoid gender-associated hormonal advantage? Something has to give somewhere.

As a side note, I struggle to accept that hormone treatments can fully remove the lasting advantage from a previous physical state. In most kinds of training progression, you can't fully undo all progress and changes in physiology that have come about from, for example, steroid use. Even returning to an untrained state, which a professional athlete would rarely do, there are persistent changes that will confer ongoing advantage. It's why I don't like seeing people like Justin "he's clean now" Gatlin in competition- he simply wouldn't be the reigning 100m champion at 37 without the lasting benefits of his testosterone doping (assuming that he's currently running clean). Again, any equivalent situation for Caster would not be her fault, which feels important.
 
Oct 27, 2017
240
The root of this is that we have different sporting competitions, divided on the basis of sex. Anything that introduces ambiguous (or plural) categorisation will run into these issues.

I have a lot of sympathy for Caster, who is simply living her life and has done a great job of being freaking fast. Where can she run, and on what basis can that be fairly decided whilst still adhering to the concept of differentiated competition aiming to avoid gender-associated hormonal advantage? Something has to give somewhere.

As a side note, I struggle to accept that hormone treatments can fully remove the lasting advantage from a previous physical state. In most kinds of training progression, you can't fully undo all progress and changes in physiology that have come about from, for example, steroid use. Even returning to an untrained state, which a professional athlete would rarely do, there are persistent changes that will confer ongoing advantage. It's why I don't like seeing people like Justin "he's clean now" Gatlin in competition- he simply wouldn't be the reigning 100m champion at 37 without the lasting benefits of his testosterone doping (assuming that he's currently running clean). Again, any equivalent situation for Caster would not be her fault, which feels important.
I think the counter to your point is that the evidence currently suggests that suppressing hormone levels for 1 year negatives those performance benefits.
 

Zoc

Banned
Oct 27, 2017
1,016
I might understand this decision if Semenya was blowing away all her competition, but she isn’t. She won the Olympics by a fraction of a second, and has often lost races.

I think this decision is based less on science or factual results than the way she looks, and I think it’s appalling.
 

Copper

Member
Nov 13, 2017
483
I'm confused. If she isn't trans, why are they enforcing hormone blockers? You don't penalise Michael Phelps for having a genetic advantage over other swimmers. Why should she be penalised for something she has no control over.
Like men who had no control over their sex are penalized and can't compete in female sporting events?

Female sports exist for a reason, it's to give that half of population a space to compete. And allowing an athelete with male level testosterone is counterproductive to that point , and to trans atheletes as well since they have to lower their natural testosterone well below that level.
 

DIE BART DIE

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,575
As a side note, I struggle to accept that hormone treatments can fully remove the lasting advantage from a previous physical state. In most kinds of training progression, you can't fully undo all progress and changes in physiology that have come about from, for example, steroid use. Even returning to an untrained state, which a professional athlete would rarely do, there are persistent changes that will confer ongoing advantage. It's why I don't like seeing people like Justin "he's clean now" Gatlin in competition- he simply wouldn't be the reigning 100m champion at 37 without the lasting benefits of his testosterone doping (assuming that he's currently running clean). Again, any equivalent situation for Caster would not be her fault, which feels important.
Isn't this refuted by the study in the staff post?
 

BlackFyre

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,587
Central to its case was that over 99% of females have around 0.12-1.79 nmol/L of testosterone in their bodies – while DSDs like Semenya are in the male range of 7.7-29.4 nmol/L.
This part is alarming. I had no idea there was such a massive gap. My question is what are the testosterone levels of other top female athletes?
 

Moral Panic

Member
Oct 28, 2017
295
Feel sorry for her but it's hard to see there being a correct answer to this problem. As long as you decide that having female only athletics is something that must be protected, it then becomes a necessary evil that some people will suffer negative side effects. Feels terrible that someone is being told if they want to engage in the sport they have trained and dedicated themselves to that they have to take drugs they don't want to take.
 

MrOblong

Member
Oct 27, 2017
40
I think the counter to your point is that the evidence currently suggests that suppressing hormone levels for 1 year negatives those performance benefits.
Isn't this refuted by the study in the staff post?
I don't think it does say that, at least from reading the Science Mag article provided- it mentions that "testosterone levels—and therefore performance—of 19 transgender women stabilized after 12 months of hormone therapy". The evidence shows that the hormone-related performance drop off stops (or levels out, rather) at a given point, which supports reducing the hormone treatment term from 2 years to 1 year (which they did), as the additional year is not observed to make any further difference.

However, it doesn't make any claim (that I can see) to the effect of "performance returns to where it would, notionally, have always been in the absence of high levels of testosterone". To put this point in less-controversial terms, giving a child growth hormones (even those without deficiencies) will have a lasting effect on their height and build throughout their entire life.

There are key times in life for physiological development, which play out differently according to the hormones you have. The lasting effects are different, but still relevant, for people who change hormone levels later in their life, some physiological changes are permanent, and in elite competition with tiny margins, that's something to at least consider.

It's why I have a strong opinion about Justin Gatlin:
https://www.physoc.org/press-release/2013/steroids-muscle
http://sciencenordic.com/steroid-effects-can-last-decades
 

chromatic9

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,190
I don't think she should have to take medication if she doesn't want to.

Is fast twitch muscles next? Sorry, you got too many?
 

Kiekura

Member
Mar 23, 2018
1,377
The root of this is that we have different sporting competitions, divided on the basis of sex. Anything that introduces ambiguous (or plural) categorisation will run into these issues.

I have a lot of sympathy for Caster, who is simply living her life and has done a great job of being freaking fast. Where can she run, and on what basis can that be fairly decided whilst still adhering to the concept of differentiated competition aiming to avoid gender-associated hormonal advantage? Something has to give somewhere.

As a side note, I struggle to accept that hormone treatments can fully remove the lasting advantage from a previous physical state. In most kinds of training progression, you can't fully undo all progress and changes in physiology that have come about from, for example, steroid use. Even returning to an untrained state, which a professional athlete would rarely do, there are persistent changes that will confer ongoing advantage. It's why I don't like seeing people like Justin "he's clean now" Gatlin in competition- he simply wouldn't be the reigning 100m champion at 37 without the lasting benefits of his testosterone doping (assuming that he's currently running clean). Again, any equivalent situation for Caster would not be her fault, which feels important.
She was already supressing her hormone levels before (because rules said so) and she wasn't able run 800m under 2 minutes. After that rule was taken away she ran it on 1.55 or something like that. And now she needs to suppress those levels again.

If you quit TRT you won't be on same the level as you were while you were taking extra TRT.
 
Oct 27, 2017
240
I don't think it does say that, at least from reading the Science Mag article provided- it mentions that "testosterone levels—and therefore performance—of 19 transgender women stabilized after 12 months of hormone therapy". The evidence shows that the hormone-related performance drop off stops (or levels out, rather) at a given point, which supports reducing the hormone treatment term from 2 years to 1 year (which they did), as the additional year is not observed to make any further difference.

However, it doesn't make any claim (that I can see) to the effect of "performance returns to where it would, notionally, have always been in the absence of high levels of testosterone". To put this point in less-controversial terms, giving a child growth hormones (even those without deficiencies) will have a lasting effect on their height and build throughout their entire life.

There are key times in life for physiological development, which play out differently according to the hormones you have. The lasting effects are different, but still relevant, for people who change hormone levels later in their life, some physiological changes are permanent, and in elite competition with tiny margins, that's something to at least consider.

It's why I have a strong opinion about Justin Gatlin:
https://www.physoc.org/press-release/2013/steroids-muscle
http://sciencenordic.com/steroid-effects-can-last-decades
I totally understand where you’re coming from but my limited understanding of the issue is that those supposed advantages from earlier exposure to testosterone have not been shown to confer a current advantage if the IOC guidelines with regards to HRT are followed. Mechanistically it makes “sense” that they would have an advantage to due to increases in myonuclei and “muscle memory” but the current evidence doesn’t show that to be the case apparently.
 

MrOblong

Member
Oct 27, 2017
40
She was already supressing her hormone levels before (because rules said so) and she wasn't able run 800m under 2 minutes. After that rule was taken away she ran it on 1.55 or something like that. And now she needs to suppress those levels again.

If you quit TRT you won't be on same the level as you were while you were taking extra TRT.
I'm not sure I follow... I'm not suggesting you'd be on the same level as when you were taking TRT, just that you'd potentially have a lasting benefit compared with having never taken it. That is what the links in my second message strongly indicate.