GE CLST M72B Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Dora Ratjen, Sex Verification In Sports, Sex Segregation

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7- Fair Game Genetics and Sports
The Debate Over Sex Testing- 2 camps
1. The Anatomists (IOC, sports officials) believe that sex division in sports should be based
on a biological feature, however imperfect it is
2. The Identifiers (“outsiders”, feminist scholars, activists, believe that sex segregation
should be based on self-identification and argue that the “messiness” of the biological
parameter is enough to do away with biology
History of Athletic Sex Verification
- 1932- Stella Walsh wins 100m Gold medal. At her death, she was shown to have
masculinized genitals and XX/XY chromosomes
- 1963- Dora Ratjen (German) placed 4th in high jump, accused of being a man
masquerading as a woman
- 1966-67- Physical inspection at some competitions (“nude parades”)
- 1967- Ewa Klobukowska (4x100 Gold medal 1964) fails gender test
- 1968- Sex chromatin test introduced at Olympic games
- 1983-85- Case of Maria Patiño (forgot her female identification before Games, had to
get tested and failed)
- 1990-92- IAAF bans gender screening
- 1992- IOC introduces Y-chromosome SRY test
- 1995- IOC session is made aware of scientific and ethical problems
- 2000- no more systematic sex verification at Olympics
- 2000-04- Other international federations follow suit
- 2003- Stockholm consensus meeting on sex change (allows MTF transsexuals to
compete as female if hormonal and legal changes have happened and if surgical
gonadectomy happened at least 2 years prior to competition)
- 2010- IOC conference in Miami, then in Lausanne
Relevant DSDs: congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), androgen insensitivity disorder
(AIS), 5-alpha reductase deficiency
Does intersexuality provide an advantage in sports? Probably
Why are males stronger than females? Because sexes are segregated very early on in
sports, because of innate biological differences, testosterone (and other androgens) are
10-20 times higher in males than in females, have different muscle mass
Normal male range- 10-35 nmol/L
Normal female range- 0.2-2.7 nmol/L
Androgenic hormones in sport
- Administration of androgenic/anabolic steroids is known to increase muscle strength,
and is therefore forbidden in sports
- Endogenous overproduction of androgens is presently accepted in both men and
- Some disorders of sex development may cause testosterone overproduction and
considered by competitors as giving “unfair advantage’
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