International Centre for Olympic Studies

Open Letter to IOC by Bruce Kidd and Colleagues

In an open letter to the IOC, sport historian and former Olympian, Professor Bruce Kidd (University of Toronto), and colleagues Katrina Kurkazis (Stanford University) and Payoshni Mitra (Jadavpur University) have called on the IOC to retract its consensus statement on sex-testing methods for female athletes. The letter makes a strong case that the IOC's continuing support for IAAF-defined sex testing procedures that were set aside by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), undermines the CAS' determination that such procedures are discriminatory for female athletes, and constitute a harmful attack on women who have their gender questioned publicly.

In the wake of the CAS Dutee Chand decision, the IOC had issued a consensus statement on "Hyperandrogenism in Female Athletes." The statement called on the IAAF to intervene at the CAS for the reinstitution of sex testing procedures set aside by the Court in its Dutee Chand decision.

Indian sprinter Dutee Chand had successfully challenged IAAF procedures designed to determine eligibility to participate in women’s athletics. Chand’s body naturally produces an excess of androgens such as testosterone, a condition referred to as hyperandrogenism. Testosterone levels are the prime indicator defined by the IAAF to determine female athletes' eligibility to participate; current medical research is not able to confirm the unambiguous binary demarcation implied by the IAAF definition. Chand, who had been barred by the Athletics Federation of India from participating in the World Junior Championships, took her case to the CAS. Focussing on the medical difficulties of providing unambiguous definitions based on hormonal levels, and pointing to the fact that a testing procedure that only applied to women but not to men, was inherently discriminatory, the CAS had ruled in Chand's favour, temporarily lifting the ban for a duration of two years.