Intersex athletes in Women's sport

Discussion in 'Pro Cycling (Road and Track Racing)' started by Crackle, 23 Aug 2016.

  1. Bollo

    Bollo Failed Tech Bro

    I'm usually all over the Guardian like a left-wing rash but missed this. 'Force' is a strong word; 'coerce' or 'blackmail' are probably more appropriate. There are difficult issues here, but Coe's just a vile human being.
  2. Buddfox

    Buddfox Über Member

    And picking up a point dellzeqq made earlier but I really think that the IAAF is the organisation with the issue, not the IOC. I am not sure other sports would have reacted the same way.
    Crackle and Bollo like this.
  3. swansonj

    swansonj Guru

    I do not have a better alternative to offer.

    My discomfort with"intersex" is that it's an "other" definition - one that establishes that "them" are different to "us". If sex is binary, then these folk are either male or female. If sex is not binary, then we all occupy positions on a spectrum and are all alike in that. What we seem to be constructing here is a system where most of us comfortably sit as either male or female on a binary system, and that is the norm, with a minority who don't fit our system and are labelled as other.

    The obvious riposte is that this merely reflects the biological reality and unfortunately for these people they are in fact biologically aberrant. The logical conclusion would then seem to be that they should compete in the Paralympics not the Olympics. No-one has yet been prepared to vocalise that (though the alternative of enforced surgery seems equally obnoxious), though I don't doubt quite a few think that. And I don't want our language or our classification system to encourage that.

    I guess my real discomfort is that we depersonalise a very personal and individual thing by discussing it in impersonal and categorical medical language.

    Personally, I've never been entirely comfortable with the split (often insisted upon on these threads) between sex and gender, and I prefer to see them both as an intertwined continuum.
    EnPassant and dellzeqq like this.
  4. TinyMyNewt

    TinyMyNewt An execrable pun

    South coast, UK
    Isn't this about context to an extent? Sometimes sex is defined as binary, sometimes not. In sport it's convenient to make this binary. Why try to pin these things down and impose one definition that applies everywhere, at all times?

    As for 'sex' and 'gender', I think the two things are different but intertwined, yes, and having both terms gives a huge variety of available definitions of the state of being human from which to choose.
    EnPassant, dellzeqq and velovoice like this.
  5. OP

    Crackle Pah

    I think it's also about governing bodies. There is a Canadian transgender cyclist, name temporarily forgotten, who was excluded from the Canadian Olympic team a while ago.
  6. OP

    Crackle Pah

  7. PhilDawson8270

    PhilDawson8270 Veteran

    While looking for the mentioned cyclist, I came across this one.

    Which seems like the UCI backed the cyclist against complaints from a local organisation and permitted them to carry on cycling. But this seems to counter the above statement. There is one cyclist here with testosterone levels who is healthy and within the mandated limits, and then another who (or whose doctor) claims that testosterone level would make them ill.

    Obviously everybody's body is different and what may be healthy levels for one may not be for another. But where do you a draw a line between allowing people to compete, and not having it open to abuse?

    It would be nice if a Dr's opinion could be trusted in saying whether an athletes level is safe and normal for them as an individual, and not have to use an arbitrary limit. But as we have seen in the past in many professional sports, there are Drs involved in many doping scandals.

    Although this kind of thing shouldn't be happening, I think when professional athletes are involved publicly in these kinds of cases. I believe that it does highlight that these issues are real since most people are very rarely to come across this first hand in their everyday life.
  8. oldroadman

    oldroadman Veteran

    Taking a step back slightly from the discussion, worthy though it may be, should a logical extension be that all exceptional people are "suspect". So top level male competitors should be "treated" because they have exceptional heat/lung capacity, exceptional pain tolerance. That way they will be reduced to a "level" defined by international federations, so it's "fairer" for others. If a high standard female competitor has a superior/different genetic makeup does that make them less worthy? There's a bit of a dual standard - men with high testosterone levels and superior engines are "winners", women (in a binary gender sports world) with exceptional ability and higher than the "accepted normal" levels of certain substances, are somehow "cheating normal women".
    When anyone defines normal we can reduce everyone to average by intervention to supress what naturally happens in their bodies.
    The smell of fear and double standards (especially from IAAF) is very, very unpleasant.
    dellzeqq, 400bhp, EnPassant and 3 others like this.
  9. ufkacbln

    ufkacbln Guest

    I would foresee the same issue again only exacerbated.

    Firstly there would still be a lack of clarity as to whether they race in the Men's or Women's events, but also there would be an issue over the actual disability classification. There are ten main impairments to qualify, and the intersex issue does not fit in any of these. There could be further objections if such an athlete was placed in a group where the lack of one of these impairments gave them a perceived advantage.

    I remember the controversy where an able bodied person was racing in a wheelchair
  10. I read recently (can't recall the source but it was quoted in The Week) a summary of the key issues, ending with the suggestion that perhaps what society needs to get its head round is the idea that, generally speaking and regardless of gender, "Olympians are not 'normal'."
  11. OP

    Crackle Pah

    I think the more you think about this and research it, you're left with the idea that unusual chemistry is what separates Elites from the majority. To divide it on grounds of sex is crude but the fact remains that people expect it to be divided thus.
    400bhp, Flying_Monkey and oldroadman like this.
  12. oldroadman

    oldroadman Veteran

    As I once heard from an elite sportsperson in another sport not related to cycling "welcome to the world of genetic exception". World class competitors in most sport fall into this category. If they didn't they would not be part of an elite.
    Crackle, 400bhp, TinyMyNewt and 2 others like this.
  13. 400bhp

    400bhp Guru

    "Normal" means different things in different contexts. In the normalised world of elite sport then outliers like semenya may well fit the normal distribution.

    Maybe us lot should run elite sports:okay:
  14. MikeonaBike

    MikeonaBike Active Member

    This is an interesting subject. If you were a woman athlete, would you feel comfortable racing against Semenya? The problem would be that you would be unable to compete on equal terms without doping. You could target other 'normal' athletes by committing to training harder and better but that would never put you on an equal footing as Semenya. I think if I were that female athlete, I would not compete in any race unless I felt that I was on a level playing field with all the others. Of course, such an attitude would be difficult for people like Semenya to deal with if athletes refused to compete against them. Such a refusal, though, would be understandable but unlikely to be condoned in public in this PC age.
  15. TinyMyNewt

    TinyMyNewt An execrable pun

    South coast, UK
    You seem to be saying that Semenya is 'not normal', but elite athletes are 'not normal' as has already been pointed out by oldroadman. This has nothing at all to do with 'being PC'.
    400bhp, theclaud and coffeejo like this.
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