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"New International Sports Rules Concerning Women’s Hormone Levels Are Competitive, Ethical Concerns" - Regina Schaffer

  • Healio - Endocrine Today
  • New York, NY
  • (October 18, 2018)

The international governing body for athletics will require women with certain rare forms of hyperandrogenism to lower their natural testosterone level for at least 6 months prior to competing in races ranging from 400 m to 1 mile, according to new eligibility regulations released by the organization in April. Athletes who do not meet the new conditions will not be eligible to compete in the female classification in the restricted events. The new rules raise several ethical and endocrine-related questions, according to experts, and are likely to only raise the stakes in the debate surrounding gender identity in sports. “This is a scientifically done regulation, and that should be commended,” said Andrea Dunaif, MD, chief of the Hilda and J. Gabrilove division of endocrinology, diabetes and bone disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “We know that once testosterone levels start to get up toward the male range, it has effects on muscle mass and red blood cell count and the effect can enhance athletic performance. It’s a difficult, fraught area because people with these disorders don’t choose to have them, but it does give them an endogenous performance enhancement, and that is not fair to the athletes who don’t have the higher testosterone.”

– Andrea Dunaif, MD, Chief, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease, Mount Sinai Health System

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