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Female sprinter wins right to compete in biological body, but larger questions loom over sex in sports




Women's 200 meters respective silver and bronze medal winners from India Asha Roy (R) and Dutee Chand flash victory signs after their race on the fifth and the final day of the Asian Athletics Championship 2013 at the Chatrapati Shivaji Stadium in Pune on July 7, 2013.
Women's 200 meters respective silver and bronze medal winners from India Asha Roy (R) and Dutee Chand flash victory signs after their race on the fifth and the final day of the Asian Athletics Championship 2013 at the Chatrapati Shivaji Stadium in Pune on July 7, 2013.
MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP/Getty Images

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Dutee Chand, the Indian female runner who challenged a ruling by the International Association of Athletics Federations, has won the right to compete without altering her body.

For decades, the I.A.A.F. has segregated men’s and women’s competition and competitors by testing testosterone levels. But with this decision, Chand, who lives with a condition termed “hyperandrogenism” that exhibits naturally high levels of testosterone, can again compete with other women. Prior female athletes with hyperandrogenism have had to surgically or chemically alter their bodies to compete.

Sport’s highest court, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, came down with the decision in a way that reflects the evolution of thought towards a spectrum that exists for all athletes. Since testosterone is now seen as inconclusive as to determining whether or not athletes with higher levels of natural testosterone receive a competitive advantage, the I.A.A.F. has two years to come up with a different line of reasoning if it wishes to stop female athletes with hyperandrogenism from competing against other females.

Should there be a line for separating male and female competition? If so, where is the line? If not, how should the sports world integrate? And to what extent will the current divisions have to adapt as issues surrounding athletes whose anatomy and/or neurochemistry don’t fit neatly into the categories of man or woman?

Dutee Chand v. Athletics Federation of India (AFI) & The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)

Guests:

Katrina Karkazis, a cultural and medical anthropologist and bioethicist at the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University; she helped argue Chand’s case

David Epstein, Author of "The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance"