Comment Of The Day: “Regarding Hormone Restrictions In Women’s Sports”

Heidi/Andreas Krieger, Esat German women’s shotput champion

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. Continue reading

Regarding Hormone Restrictions In Women’s Sports.

Here we go again.

Since the infamous Soviet Press sisters dominated their events in Sixties Era Olympic games, both looking like Hulk Hogan in a dress, and the female East German swimmers won medal after medal while sporting shoulders that would make an NFL draftee feel proud, the issue of hormone levels in female competitors has been contentious.  The confounding complications of intersex and transitioning competitors has only made the mud muddier. What’s the right thing to do?

Last week, track and field’s world governing body passed new rules limiting  women’s events to athletes with  testosterone levels that are “capable of being produced solely by ovaries.” These rules apply across the board to athletes regardless of what gender they were presumed to be at birth. These new rules could force female athletes with naturally elevated testosterone levels to have to lower their hormones with medication or have to compete against men in certain Olympic events.

Initially the limitations will be enforced in middle distance races of 400 meters to one mile, events requiring the kind of speed, power and endurance that testosterone assists.  I assume that if this compromise, for a compromise it is, gains acceptance, then the substitution of hormone levels for biological sex will travel to other realms of sport, as it should.

Duke law professor Doriane Lambelet Coleman makes a strong argument for the new rules in a column today in the New York Times. She writes in part,

“In competitive sport, winning and room at the top are what ultimately matter, so relative numbers are irrelevant. It doesn’t matter that there are 100 females and three males in a girls’ race if the three males win spots in the final or on the podium because they are males. The unusually high incidence of intersex athletes in the women’s middle distances and their reported 100 percent win share in the women’s 800 meters at the Olympic Games in Rio show their disproportionate power. Indeed, it is because they clustered in the middle distances that these events are the initial focus of the rules. Their supremacy was proof of principle. Testosterone readings outside of the female range were also found in the throws, but these were attributed to doping, not intersex conditions.

The I.A.A.F. is requiring that affected athletes lower their testosterone levels to within the female range if they want to continue competing in the middle distances in the women’s category. By definition, the required hormone therapy causes medically unnecessary physiological change, and no one should be forced to take drugs they don’t want or need.”

Taking the opposite position, Alice Dreger, the author of “Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists and One Scholar’s Search for Justice,” argues that the new rules are discriminatory and cruel: Continue reading

Ethically, Caster Semenya Points Us Directly To Gender-Free Sports Competition, And There Is No Ethical Way To Avoid It

Caster

Ethics Alarms first mentioned female runner Caster Semenya in this essay , when the international sports community was debating the South African track champion’s fitness for competition. Caster, depending on who you believe, is either a woman, intersex, a woman with freakishly high levels of testosterone in her body, or a man who identifies as a woman. What is undeniable is that she is faster than most women, and maybe all of them, and her unique physical make-up, whatever you want to call it, gives her an advantage. Since the last Olympics, Caster has been forced to take drugs that inhibited her body’s production of testosterone.Then, in July 2015 , the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the 2011 IAAF regulations that restricted testosterone levels in female athletes. They also suspended hyperandrogenism regulations for two years. Now Semenya will be able to compete as she is naturally, and because she will, she is widely expected to smoke the competition.

Is it fair to let her run? Is it fair not to let her run? After this year of controversy and confusion over gender, with boys and men “identifying as women” and transgender discrimination laws roiling the culture wars, this is a perfect time for an intersex champion. Then, presumably, all hell will break loose. A sports scientist tells The Guardian,

“I’m actually dreading the Olympics. People only want to hear a good story so when Semenya wins gold the South African media will go crazy. If she breaks the world record, which I think she will, it’ll be even crazier. You can lie and say: ‘Happy days. Let’s celebrate our golden girl’ – which the politicians and media want. Or you can be honest and principled and say: ‘Actually, there are many things we need to address.’ That’s very unpopular”

Society and sports have reached the point  the ethical solution is obvious and unavoidable, and, unfortunately, brutal. If society is accepting the fact that a binary gender distribution is a myth, and there may be seven, ten, or dozens of gender variations along a spectrum, then integrity and consistency—and fairness—demands that gender distinctions in sport be eliminated as arbitrary. Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: Columbus (Texas)Track and Field Officials

An athlete who points skyward after an athletic victory in acknowledgement of his faith is not engaging in “excessive celebration,” as prohibited by University Interscholastic League rules. If that is a common interpretation of the rule, it should have been challenged and excised long ago. The equivalent of a quick personal prayer is neither obtrusive, obnoxious nor mocking, and any observers who find it thus are so virulently anti-religion and intolerant that they warrant no respect or attention whatsoever. And still…

Yes, Columbus (Texas) High’s re 4×100-meter relay squad had won its event, spurred by the stellar efforts of  junior Derrick Hayes. Upon learning of the team’s victory, he pointed a finger to the skies. This common gesture, which can be seen dozens of times every day on videotapes of baseball games, was ruled by officials at the meet to have violated the University Interscholastic League (UIL) regulation barring “excessive celebration.” As a result, the entire 4×100-meter squad was disqualified and  barred from moving on to the state championships.

If that harmless and inoffensive gesture was going to be interpreted as a celebration, which it is not, and if it is, excessive, which it also is not, the UIL had an obligation to warn coaches and athletes that it intended to enforce the rule idiotically and in a manner hostile to personal faith.  It does not appear that such a warning was given. The penalty was unjust and cruel, and its effect is hostile to religion, as well as common sense and rationality. Columbus High should rally to the support of Hayes and his team mates, and the other teams ought to protest this result as well. This is “no-tolerance” in all the worst senses of the word.

__________________________

Pointer: Alexander Cheezem

Source: Yahoo Sports

“The Only Answer”: An Ethics Hero, A Life Saved, And A Troubling Hypothetical

In this universe, a hero...and in an alternate one? I wonder...

In this universe, a hero…and in an alternate one? I wonder…

University of New Hampshire senior Cameron Lyle, a Division I college track and field competitor who excels in the shot put and hammer throw, has chosen to end his collegiate athletic career to save a stranger’s life.

He will donate his bone marrow today to a 28-year-old man suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Doctors told Lyle the man who will receive his marrow will live only six months without a transplant, and that there was a only one in five million chance for another non-family match. Yet the odds came up in his favor, thanks to  Lyle having his mouth swabbed to join a bone marrow registry two years ago. He was a perfect match.

Lyle says he never hesitated in his choice, once he was informed. “It’s just a sport,” he said. “Just because it’s Division I college level doesn’t make it any more important. Life is a lot more important than that, so it was pretty easy…It was kind of a no-brainer for a decent human. I couldn’t imagine just waiting. He could have been waiting for years for a match. I’d hope that someone would donate to me if I needed it.”

“He made his decision. He gave up his college season to do this. He’s a gentle giant,” Lyle’s mother said of her 6-foot-2-inch, 255-pound son. “He’ll do anything for anybody.”  Lyle’s coach Jim Boulanger, was also completely supportive, and, according to Lyle, came up with an instant Ethics Quote of the Month when the shot-putter told him of his plans.

“Here’s the deal,” Boulanger told Lyle. “You go to the conference and take 12 throws or you could give a man three or four more years of life. I don’t think there’s a big question here. This is not a moral dilemma. There’s only one answer.” Continue reading

Ethics Challenge: the Fisherman and the Pole Vaulter

Many readers disagreed with Ethics Alarms on its verdict in the women’s track and field tournament story, where the championship-winning pole vault was disqualified after the opposing coach complained that the vaulter was wearing a bracelet, which was specifically banned by the rules. I argued that the rule was clear and unambiguous, that the coaches had the duty of making sure each competitor followed it, and that simply pretending that the rule didn’t exist because the result of enforcing it was harsh was not an ethical option for the referees. The coach who flagged the rules was well within ethical limits by making sure that his team, which obeyed the rules, wasn’t defeated by a team that didn’t, even if the rule violated didn’t help it succeed.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to explain why this recent scenario, in a very different sport, should be looked at differently from the track meet, or not. Continue reading

Pine Tar Redux: the Pole Vaulter, the Bracelet, and Technicalities

Sports Illustrated is crying foul over the story of a female high school pole vaulter whose jump in the final event had apparently won the meet and the league championship for her team  until the opposing coach called a rules infraction:  she was wearing a friendship bracelet, which was prohibited, and according to the rule book, grounds for disqualification.

SI says this is bad sportsmanship. Nonsense. Enforcing the rules of a sport cannot be poor sportsmanship. The objective is to win within the rules. A team that wins without following the rules cannot claim that “good sportsmanship” requires that the rules be ignored for its benefit. Continue reading