Limiting the testosterone level of the female athlete has no scientific basis

Galarraga Aiestaran, Ana

Elhuyar Zientzia

atleta-emakumezkoen-testosterona-maila-mugatzeak-e
Mokgadi Caster Semenya, Ed. Olympic Games 2012. Tab59/Wikipedia/CC 2.0

The International Athletics Federations Association (IAAF) decided last year to limit testosterone level to participate in female competitions. The standard establishes a maximum blood concentration of participants of 5 nmol/l. This measure provoked much criticism and now researchers Cara Tannenbaum and Sheree Bekker, in the editorial of the medical journal BMJ, have remembered that it has no scientific basis.

According to IAAF, the high concentration of testosterone in a woman's blood brings advantages over its competitors. Thus, in female races up to 400 miles (including barrier races), participants will not be able to overcome this limit. In addition, you must prove the legal status of a woman or intersex and reduce testosterone levels in the blood for at least six consecutive months.

The editorial explains, however, that the limit of 5 nmol/l is “totally arbitrary”. Non-athletes usually have concentrations of 8.8-30.9 nmol/l and women of 0.4-2 nmol/l. But these concentrations overlap in athletes after competing. And it is not shown that a higher concentration is associated with winning.

DFA also recognizes sensitivity to androgens. In fact, people who despite being XY chromosomes are not sensitive to androgens do not develop the characteristics of men. The IAAF also wants to exclude them from female competitions. In the absence of laboratory tests to measure the sensitivity to androgens, IAAF proposes the realization of physical studies, including the study of the measurement of the clitoris. These studies, in addition to violating privacy, have alerted researchers that they are inadequate, since they are at risk of erroneous conclusions.

For all this, Tannenbaum and Bekker demand the derogation of these IAAF standards and are committed to the withdrawal of Mokgadi Caster Semenya.

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