Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice:“Sex Testing” in International Athletics
Roger Pielke, Jr.
University of Colorado
Center for Science and Technology Policy Research
In many settings, decision makers look to science as the basis for making decisions that are made difficult by their social or political context. Sport is no different. For more than a half century sports officials have looked to science to provide a clear distinction between men and women for purposes of determining who is eligible to participate in women’s athletic competitions. However, the science of sex provides overwhelming evidence that there is no such clear biological demarcation that differentiates men and women. Despite this evidence, the International Olympic Committee and the International Association of Athletics Federations in 2011 implemented a form of “sex testing” based on androgens, and specifically, testosterone levels in females. This paper evaluates this policy, finding it contradictory to scientific understandings of sex and counter to widely-held social norms about gender. The paper recommends an alternative approach to determining eligibility for participation in women’s sports events, one more consistent with the stated values of sports organizations, and more generally, with principles of human dignity.
If you are in Boulder and want to attend or are elsewhere wish to watch it online, here are all the details.
The talk is based on a paper of the same title. If you are interested in a draft of that paper for comment -- and I'd sure welcome comments -- please drop me an email at rpielkejr at gmail. Thanks!