News 2nd March 2016

Transgender Guidelines to be in place for Rio 2016

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) insisted that its Transgender Guidelines would be in place for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at a press conference in Lausanne today, despite a pending challenge to the science on which they claim to be based. “The medical and scientific commission of the IOC have issued these regulations after a broad consultation with the scientific community”, said IOC President Thomas Bach (pictured). “Then, respecting also the ruling of CAS [Court of Arbitration for Sport] in this context, they have issued these regulations, which will apply for the Olympic Games in Rio 2016.”

Bach’s comments appear to be confusing the IOC’s Transgender Guidelines – which apply to XY males – with its Hyperandrogenism Regulations, which apply to XX females. The Transgender Guidelines allow XY male athletes to compete against XX female athletes without undergoing surgery, but also reassert a limit on endogenous (naturally produced) testosterone for XY female athletes, despite the science behind this being subject to challenge. The IOC’s Hyperandrogenism Regulations require sport to ‘actively investigate’ XX women with ‘any perceived deviation in sex characteristics’ and limit the amount of endogenous testosterone they can produce. The International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) Hyperandrogenism Regulations, which are based on the same science, have been suspended by the CAS.

Bach’s comments also suggest that the IOC will not follow the ruling of the CAS in the Dutee Chand case and will attempt to reinstate its Hyperandrogenism Regulations ahead of Rio 2016. In a Consensus Statement following a ‘Consensus meeting on sex reassignment and hyperandrogegism’, the IOC urged the sporting community ‘to revert to CAS with arguments and evidence to support the reinstatement of its hyperandrogenism rules’.

This is despite the CAS suspending the IAAF’s Hyperandrogenism Regulations in July last year. ‘The IAAF has not provided sufficient scientific evidence about the qualitative relationship between enhanced testosterone levels and improved athletic performance in hyperandrogenic athletes’, read the Dutee Chand ruling. ‘The IAAF has not established, on the balance of probabilities, that the Hyperandrogenism Regulations apply only to exclude female athlete that are shown to have a competitive advantage of the same order as that of a male athlete.’

Such a move has not gone unnoticed by the legal team that represented Chand. ‘Despite the CAS decision to suspend the IAAF Hyperandrogenism Regulations, the IOC has failed to announce whether it will follow this precedent and refrain from implementing its own hyperandrogegism regulations at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games’, reads a 9 February letter sent directly to Bach. ‘The IOC’s failure is most disconcerting given that the IOC’s previous Hyperandrogenism Regulations were developed conjointly with the IAAF and were based on the same premise and scientific studies that the CAS found inadequate to justify the Regulations’.

The letter also puts into doubt that the Consensus meeting involved a “broad consultation”, as claimed by Bach today. ‘The so-called “consensus meeting” was by invitation only and held behind closed doors’, it reads. ‘In attendance were six of the nine witnesses who testified before the CAS in support of the IAAF’s now-suspended Hyperandrogenism Regulations, as well as both of the IAAF’s external lawyers, but none of the ten members of Dutee Chand’s team of witnesses and counsel who persuaded the CAS to suspend those Regulations’.

The Chand ruling also revealed that there had been ‘over 30 cases to date’ under the IAAF’s Hyperandrogenism Regulations. As they only came into force in May 2011, that is over ten cases per year. Such cases include four young XX female athletes, aged 18-21, who were forced to undergo surgery to allow them to compete at the London 2012 Olympics. It is understood that all four were found to have a mix of male and female anatomical features and ended up having surgery to remove undescended testicles, being told that this would lower their testosterone levels and allow them to continue competing. A scientific study revealed that all the athletes had medical procedures that had nothing to do with this process: reductions to the size of their clitorises, ‘feminine’ remodelling surgery and oestrogen replacement therapy.

Bach also spoke about other organisational aspects of the Rio 2016 Olympics at today’s press conference. You can read his comments by clicking here.

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