There were an unusual number of superb comments on this topic. This one is a worthy representative of them all.
Here is Sue Denim’s Comment of the Day on the post, Regarding Hormone Restrictions In Women’s Sports:
While I strongly support the use of science and evidence to make these decisions – this stinks to high heaven. The books were cooked, and very obviously so.
”One of the world’s most respected sports lawyers has quit his position on a committee of the governing body of international athletics, slamming the controversial new rule that is believed to target gold medal-winning South African runner Caster Semenya.”
Four months after being appointed to the IAAF’s disciplinary tribunal, Steve Cornelius said “in good conscience” he could not continue in the role.”
Without going into allegations about “real reasons”, let’s just look at the facts.
“A peer-reviewed article co-authored by Dr Bermon and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found female athletes with high testosterone had the greatest advantage in the pole vault and hammer throw, yet these events were not included in the newly created “restricted events” category.
The IAAF’s investigation also found no advantage in the 1,500 metres event but it was included..”
Let’s look at the evidence of advantage.
Dr Karkazis was an expert witness at Chand’s CAS appeal, and has raised concerns over the validity of the IAAF’s study.
“The research that they’re pointing to is their own. In other words, they funded it, they’ve published it, they’ve analysed it, so it’s not impartial, it’s research designed to support this regulation.
“It was published after it was required, not before they decided to institute a regulation.”
Epidemiologist Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz ran a statistical analysis of that study, and concluded it used flawed methodology because the report authors ran the tests 43 times to come to their conclusion.
“When you do that kind of test what you should be doing is what’s called correcting for multiple comparisons. Basically, you do a statistical calculation that says this is the number of positive results I found, but this is the number of tests I did, how likely is it that those positive results are actually true? And they didn’t correct for multiple comparisons.
“If you do any correction at all, you find that none of the results they found are statistically significant. Which means basically that it’s likely the results that the IAAF found in their study are down simply to chance and don’t describe a true finding.”
This is really basic statistical science. It defies credulity that any scientist working on this could not know it.
Now there is considerable evidence that high testosterone is correlated with (though not causative of) a number of medical syndromes that probably (I’d say almost certainly) give a small percentage of advantage, when not corrected for weight categories. The correlation is inexact though, as the sensitivity of individual cells to androgens (testosterone mainly) varies considerably. Some syndromes such as Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) make testosterone levels meaningless. One person with level X would gain far more advantage than another with 100X.
This is Junk Science.
It would only be necessary to ignore in this way the peer reviewed data that would not exclude a certain high profile case if such exclusion was desired. Even that wouldn’t be enough, one would have to ignore basic statistical methods in the data that was used. But even that wouldn’t be enough, one would have to ignore the events where the evidence, poor though it is, is strongest, and arbitrarily include an event where there’s no evidence whatsoever.
If the object was to exclude a specific individual.
Otherwise it’s inexplicable.
It’s also bloody dangerous, both for the individual concerned, and for sport in general. You see, there is a much, much, much higher degree of correlation, proven correlation not junk science, with advantage in certain sports with another physical characteristics : amount of melanin in the skin.
The use of this method, if applied consistently, would I feel be a Very Bad Thing™
Beginning in the mid-1930s, when African-American women began to excel in track and field, their success was seen through a mainstream prism of success in a “mannish” sport and reinforced disparaging stereotypes.In the late 1940s, an Olympic official, Norman Cox, sarcastically proposed that in the case of black women, “The International Olympic Committee should create a special category of competition for them — the unfairly advantaged ‘hermaphrodites’ who regularly defeated ‘normal women,’ those less skilled ‘child bearing’ types with ‘largish breasts, wide hips and knocked knees.’ ”
Note that he was being sarcastic, at the antedeluvian attitudes of his colleagues.
(Sources : ABC Australia news 2018, New York Times 2003)