Fri | Apr 19, 2019

‘Good move’ - Sports medicine experts applaud IAAF’s testosterone rule

Published:Friday | April 27, 2018 | 12:06 AMAkino Ming

At least two locally-based sports medicine specialists have commended the IAAF’s move to limit the eligibility of female athletes, with high levels of natural testosterone.

This, after president of the IAAF, Sebastian Coe announced that from November 1, the organisation will only allow women with testosterone levels below a certain amount (5 nmol/L), to compete in international events, from the 400 metres through to the mile.

The rule would force women with elevated levels of the hormone, to reduce same, through the use of ‘hormonal contraceptives’ for a period of six months, before they are allowed to run. Affected athletes would be required to take the medication or compete in events outside of the 400m to mile range.

“What they have discovered is that there are a number of female athletes with extremely high levels of testosterone, that is not artificially induced. Because of certain discrepancies in their reproductive systems, some of them have both male and female reproductive organs and it gives them a distinct advantage over other people of the same sex, without that performance enhancer. I think it is an excellent rule,” stated Dr Paul Wright.


Dr Winston Dawes, also welcomed the rule, but noted that there may be some loopholes, which could still give an advantage to female athletes with high levels of natural testosterone.

“I think it is a good move, but I think it should be introduced at an early stage in these athletes’ lives, because if they already have the muscle development, all they have to do is try and maintain it, even with the reduced testosterone levels,” Dawes said.

While stating that Jamaica’s middle-distance athletes would still need to improve in order to be competitive in the middle distances, Wright said that the new rule could allow athletes like Natoya Goule to place better.

Goule finished third at the recent Commonwealth Games, behind winner Caster Semenya, the South African Olympic 800m champion, who has been at the forefront of the issue.

Goule opted not to comment on the matter, when The Gleaner contacted her yesterday.

Attempts to reach members of the executive of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, who may have been travelling to the Penn Relays, also proved futile.

In a statement, Coe said: “We have a responsibility to ensure a level playing field for athletes ... where success is determined by talent, dedication and hard work, rather than other contributing factors.”
The specified events are the 400m, hurdles races, 800m, 1500m, one mile races and combined events over the same distances.

The IAAF notes that there is medical consensus supported by research and data, that shows that high levels of natural testosterone in female athletes, can significantly enhance performance.