Sunday, 20 September 2009

A Comment so good.....

I wish I'd made it myself.

Regarding your contention Semenya "did cheat" because she and her trainers/handlers were allegedly aware of her IS condition, internal testes, etc., this is the crux of the issue- if rules are rules, then what are the applicable rules?

From the IAAF's own website-
6. Conditions that should be allowed:

(a) Those conditions that accord no advantage over other females:

- Androgen insensitivity syndrome (Complete or almost complete - previously called testicular feminization);

- Gonadal dysgenesis (gonads should be removed surgically to avoid malignancy);

- Turner’s syndrome.

(b) Those conditions that may accord some advantages but nevertheless acceptable:

- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia;
- Androgen producing tumors;
- Anovulatory androgen excess (polycystic ovary syndrome).

As I read the above, the *only* bit of wiggle room that might make the cheating accusation stick in Semenya's case is the part about "Complete or almost complete" would all fall to the question of whether or not her AIS is complete enough...and the rules don't define that.

Besides that, there's this-

B.Current IAAF Policy
In 1992,the Medical Committee recommended and the Council adopted the current policy on gender veriļ¬cation,which states:

1.The general “health check ” is strongly recommended,but no longer required.

2.Visual examination of the genitalia during the delivery of a urine specimen in the women ’s doping control station is a sufficient method of determining whether the athlete is male or female.The risk of a male being discovered during the doping control procedure is sufficient deterrent to prevent males from attempting to compete as females.

Seems to me that she did everything according to IAAF rules, so I fail to understand why she is being demonized rather than those who wrote those rules...?

Credit and Kudos to Tina.


Carolyn Ann said...

I'll probably be vilified for this: did she run within the spirit of the rules?

Did she use her advantage unfairly? How aware of her advantage was she?

If she was even slightly aware of her advantage, was she being fair to her fellow competitors?

The rules are imperfect - necessarily, they cannot account for every condition, nor can they accommodate sporting officials who lie by omission.

Which is more important: The letter of the law, or the spirit of it?

If she was aware of her advantage: she cheated. If she wasn't, it was a well run race. Now she is aware of her advantage, is it fair to allow her to compete against women?

There is no satisfactory answer. There certainly is no reasonable answer! If she runs against other women, her natural advantage removes any sense of fair competition for the women she runs against. If she doesn't run (for whatever reason), she's penalized. She is, unfortunately, in a position where she has little chance of "winning".

Carolyn Ann

Lloyd Flack said...

But what are the criteria? You cannot excluden her by saying she is not a real woman. Someone with CAIS or high level PAIS definitely is a real woman. You need some other criterion.

For the purposes of social interaction two sets of differeneces between males and females trump the others They are genital configuration and brain organization. If someone is female on these then you treat them as female despite any masculinization in other traits.

Sport is a social activity. Absent good reasons to do otherwise we should treat someone as female if she is female for other social purposes. If you have to exclude someone with high level with PAIS you can't have a criterion which says she isn't really a woman. It has to be more general and has to be something which would in principle exclude some XX women.

There aren't any good answers because the question of what is our criterion for fairness has never been thought out. Everone knows what is fair except they don't.

Lloyd Flack said...

Whatever criteria you choose cannot be one which effecively excludes everyone but the intersexed from the top level of women's sport. That would really cause ill will towards the athletes involved and towards the intersexed in general. Whatever advantages are allowed cannot be overwhelming ones.

Do that and it will no longer be seen as women's sports and the competitors will not be seen as women. The very opposite of what you want.

I can't see any good solution right now.

Anonymous said...

Then you need to try again, Lloyd, and this time think a little bit more outside the box!

Caster is a brilliant athlete and runner. How can we shift the focus towards celebrating that fact and away from parsing her physical status to death?

Does Caster's only merit lie in comparing her to other athletes? Do intersex/transsexual peoples' worth lie in how well they/we stack up against 'normal' people?

Do ya gettit?



Tina said...

It is important to note that when we are talking intersex conditions and any specifically related IAAF rules, were are really only talking about situations involving athletes competing as women whose status as such is challenged.

Were someone with an XX genotype to take enough testosterone to virilize their musculature, essentially going from a "typical" girl to being someone whose appearance is like that of Semenya, and then chose to compete as a man-

a) a combination of a lighter female skeletal structure combined with virilized musculature might very well provide an advantage in certain track and field events, especially if the individual was naturally tall to begin with

b) despite the fact that this XX individual's T levels had been artificially increased- something we see (erroneously) treated as some kind of magic bullet that automatically makes anyone better/faster/stronger, if the IAAF rules concerning transsexuality were met this person would be allowed to compete against men regardless of the possibility of any advantage as outlined in a)

Were an individual to transition before puberty, thereby avoiding many of the non-advantageous female secondary sexual characteristics puberty brings, this rule would apply-

"1. Before Puberty
“Individuals undergoing sex reassignment of male to female before puberty
should be regarded as girls and women.” Similarly, this also applies to female to
male reassignment, and they should be regarded as boys or men.

if after puberty-

2. After Puberty
Individuals undergoing sex reassignment from male to female, or the reverse,
after puberty are eligible to participate in their reassigned gender under the following
a. Surgical anatomic changes have been completed, including external
genitalia changes and gonadectomy.

regardless of how you slice it (no pun intended), ones external genitalia offer ZERO performance advantage...

furthermore, any requirement that FtoM competitors have "external genitalia changes" places an onerous restriction on them for no practical reason. Genital surgery for MtoFs and FtoMs is nowhere near the same thing, but that is exactly how it is treated here.

b. Legal recognition of their assigned sex has been conferred by the
appropriate official authorities.

Hard to get any more vague than that...

c. Hormonal therapy appropriate for the assigned sex has been administered
in a verifiable manner and for sufficient length of time to minimise
gender-related advantages in sport competitions.

Great, except that "Hormonal therapy appropriate for the assigned sex" in FtoM individuals actually does the opposite and minimizes sex (not gender) related disadvantages.

Further guidelines:
a. Eligibility should begin no sooner than two years after gonadectomy.
b. A confidential case-by-case evaluation will occur.
c. In the event that the gender of a competing athlete is questioned, the
medical delegate (or equivalent) of the relevant sporting body shall
have the authority to take all appropriate measures for the determination
of the gender of a competitor.

In the case of FtoM individuals, again, their female gonads offer no performance advantage whatsoever so requiring a gonadectomy has no basis in any real need...

if it didn't affect the real lives and careers of real people, all of these bumbling, half-baked rules unevenly applied when they shouldn't be and evenly applied when it makes no sense to do so would be amusing...throughout these rules the IAAF repeatedly makes the ignorant and amateurish mistake of treating "gender" as being synonymous with "sex", when in their own testing of Semenya they reportedly employed both medical (sex)*and* psychological (gender) tests in making their determination...?

Tina said...

In the larger picture, there is more than a bit of sexism at work in these rules- the gonadectomy standards for male to female athletes are imposed on female to male athletes regardless of any practical need, and MtoF and FtoM hormone therapies are treated identically despite having vastly different effects on performance.

And the underlying message of special care taken to make things "fair" for women competitors while pretty much ignoring men who might be running against IS and TS athletes seems to be that women are inherently weak and vulnerable and need to be protected by overseers (all of whom I have seen quoted in the Semanya affair are of course men), while male athletes presented with the possibility of an uneven playing field need to just suck it up and deal with it and not complain, because that's what real men do.

Battybattybats said...

How can unfair advantage exist in sport when proportions and bodyshape and muscle attachments and fibre type already provide from-birth advatages?

And recatagorising all sports to take into account all those variables to create fairer competition (such as the weight classes in boxing) would likely make most sports financially unviable and the olympics a very very long drudgery.. so fairness in sport seems likely rather impossible.

Intersex seems to be challenging the very basis of our myths about sport.

Nick Name said...

regardless of how you slice it (no pun intended), ones external genitalia offer ZERO performance advantage...

Oh I don't know about that. Watch a video of Matt Shirvington in a 100m sprint.

Swimmers also receive advantage from external genetalia. (Borderline SFW link)

Anonymous said...

'Intersex seems to be challenging the very basis of our myths about sport.'

BB gets it. And could take it a step or two further, perhaps.


Adrian Ravensoul said...

I have polycystic ovary syndrome and borderline CAH. O_O