Consigned to the women’s interest pages of the Sydney Morning Herald, rather than front page sports news two days earlier, journalist Clementine Ford writes a more insightful piece on Usanakorn, that we commend:
The IAAF have … instituted a policy that dictates women with naturally occurring testosterone deemed ‘too high’ will be required to either surgically or medically reduce their body’s production to a ‘normal’ level.
On the surface, it seems reasonable because the idea of an unfair advantage is anathema to sports. But the policy has been criticized by a panel of scientists, sports experts and bioethicists at the Stanford Centre for Biomedical Research, with the panel challenging the belief that higher testosterone levels naturally lead to a greater sporting advantage (for in amongst the flaming pitchforks being waved at Usanakorn and her increased levels of testosterone, it should be remembered that they didn’t help her beat Ramadan)…
Perhaps the most glaring disparity in our obsessive need to qualify femaleness is how little it compares to our appreciation for the extreme athletic ability of men at the top of their game. Caster Semenya’s ability to run well is considered so unusual that she – and other women like her – are forced to prove their femaleness in order to compete. If they are too good, it is assumed that they must be operating on a level higher than that normally reserved for women. Worse, that supposed duplicity is touted as cheating, bringing not just the athlete’s sex into question but also their integrity.
After Fairfax published that disappointing article earlier in the week, we hope Clementine Ford passed her article on to the sports news desk.