The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday called on World Athletics to end “sex testing” on females, particularly hyperandrogenic athletes such as Caster Semenya, calling the practices “discriminatory” and breaching the “dignity” of women.
The report claims that the standards of femininity required were “often deeply racially biased,” with women from the Global South “disproportionately affected.”
“Through their policies, sport governing bodies have created environments that coerce some women into invasive and unnecessary medical interventions as a condition to compete in certain events,” HRW wrote in its report, which includes testimonials from athletes.
“Sports officials have engaged in vitriolic public criticism that has ruined careers and lives,” it added.
World Athletics regulations “discriminate against women on the basis of their sex, their sex characteristics and their gender expression,” the report said. “Sex testing violates a range of internationally protected fundamental rights including to privacy, dignity, health, non-discrimination, freedom from ill-treatment and employment rights.”
Since April 2018, World Athletics has required women with a natural excess of male sex hormones to lower their testosterone levels through treatment before competing in races between 400m and 1 mile.
The ruling concerns, in particular, the South African Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya, who has elevated testosterone due to differences of sexual development, but identifies as a woman and races as a woman.
The 29-year-old, who refuses to comply with the ruling, intends to turn to the European Court of Human Rights after her case was dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
HWR, which in its report recommends that World Athletics abolish its regulations, is also appealing to the International Olympic Committee.
World Athletics released a statement criticizing the report, while underlining its commitment to women in sport.
“This report was not written by independent and impartial experts, but rather by advocates for one side of the argument,” it said in the statement.
“World Athletics was not asked to provide a response to these allegations as part of the report, which would have provided much-needed balance on this very complex issue,” World Athletics added. “We remain committed to fairness for women in sport and reject the allegation that biological limits are based on race or gender stereotypes.”
BELARUS RUNNER BANNED
Marina Arzamasova, the world 800m champion in 2015, has been banned for four years after testing positive for ligandrol, a muscle growth agent, the Athletics Integrity Unit said on Friday.
Arzamasova, 32, who also won a European silver medal in 2014, was provisionally suspended in August last year.
Since running a personal best of 1 minute, 57.54 seconds in 2015, she has not broken the two-minute barrier.
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