UPDATED: August 6, 2018
After the IAAF issued a public response to our July 10 letter, we teamed with Athlete Ally once again to release this additional statement:
Dear Lord Coe,
Despite sentiments included in your letter, we feel that the IAAF is, in fact, trying to prevent women from competing in athletics. Women do not have a “choice” if they are forced to compete in a male category or an intersex category which, to our knowledge, does not exist. Furthermore, we are deeply troubled by your standing behind data that is fundamentally flawed to do so.
Though the IAAF cites scientific evidence to justify this policy, the fact remains that you have yet to release any meaningful evidence to support your position. While we appreciate your concerns regarding the privacy of athletes, there is a tremendous need for reliable and sound science in this field before policies to limit women’s participation are put in place. In fact, many independent researchers have called out the IAAF data as flawed; the integrity of your methodology has been questioned (Karkazis & Meyerowitz-Katz, 2017; Sőnksen et al., 2018; Pielke Jr., Tucker & Boye 2018;Gelman 2017; Menier, 2018; Franklin, Ospina Betancurt, & Camporesi, 2018). Moreover, in 2015, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned an almost identical IAAF regulation. As you know, CAS carefully weighed an extensive body of scientific evidence and was unable to conclude that the impact of naturally elevated testosterone on women’s performance was so much more substantial than the benefits caused by other factors, such as nutrition, access to specialist training facilities and coaching, and other genetic and biological variations. In its ruling, CAS considered the rights of all women athletes as set out in the Olympic Charter and IAAF Constitution and concluded that the regulation was discriminatory and infringed on the rights of a minority group.
We understand that the women’s category is a restricted category; however, to compare the restricted nature of women’s sports to youth sports is paternalistic and only further infantilizes women’s athletics. Sports that are divided by weight to establish fair competition are also not analogous; athletes choose which weight class in which to compete and are never forced by the sport governing body to medically alter their body in order to compete in a particular weight class. Therefore, these comparisons are neither fair nor accurate.
Furthermore, what remains concerning is that the IAAF’s most recent regulation likely violates human rights laws of numerous countries around the world. With policies in place that violate the fundamental human rights of women and prevent them from competing, you are dismantling, not “protecting,” women’s sports and also hampering worldwide efforts to create a safe and inclusive environment for future generations of girls and women.
Once again, we urge you to rescind this discriminatory policy.
Athlete Ally & Women’s Sports Foundation
Our original letter was published July 10 in response to the recent IAAF regulations, which openly discriminate against female athletes with naturally higher levels of testosterone, more than 60 athletes in the global sports community have signed on to a letter to advocate for an equitable and inclusive athletic experience for all. The powerful letter has been endorsed by WSF Founder Billie Jean King and WSF President Grete Eliassen as well as Abby Wambach, Aimee Mullins, Megan Rapinoe, Meghan Duggan and Jessica Mendoza.
Dear Members of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council:
We the undersigned members of the sports community are deeply troubled by the recently announced regulations that discriminate against female athletes with naturally elevated testosterone that would require them to undergo medically unnecessary interventions to lower their testosterone levels as a precondition of participation in sport.
No woman should be required to change her body to compete in women’s sport.
These regulations continue the invasive surveillance and judgment of women’s bodies that have long tainted women’s sport. They intensify the unfair scrutiny that female athletes already experience and exacerbate discrimination against women in sport who are perceived as not prescribing to normative ideas about femininity, which can include their appearance, their gender expression, and their sexuality.
As Dutee Chand said regarding the last regulation: “I do not wish to see anyone else go through the process that I had to go through or be scrutinized the way that I was. My heart goes out to all the women who are targeted by the new regulation.”
Such discrimination undermines the spirit of sport, and violates the 4th fundamental principle of the Olympic Charter, to which the IAAF adheres:
The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
As leaders in our athletic community, we believe that sport changes the world when it welcomes and empowers all people. What is at stake here is far more than the right to participate in a sport. Women’s bodies, their wellbeing, their ability to earn a livelihood, their very identity, their privacy and sense of safety and belonging in the world, are at imminent risk.
We demand you rescind these discriminatory regulations, and stand with female athletes globally in pursuit of an equitable and inclusive athletic experience.
|Billie Jean King
|Founder, Women’s Sports Foundation, tennis
|Two-time Olympic Gold medalist, FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion
|Paralympian, Women’s Hall of Fame, track & field
|Three-time Paralympic Gold medalist, canoeing, skiing, wheelchair basketball
|Two-time Olympic Gold medalist, soccer
|Olympic Gold medalist, Hockey Hall of Fame
|Two-time Paralympian, skiing
|Professional cross-country skier, NCAA All-American
|Olympian, track & field
|NCAA basketball player, lead activist in overturning FIBA’s hijab ban
|Olympic Gold medalist, water polo
|First NY Jets female coach
|Only American to sail in three America’s Cups and two Whitbread Round-the-World Races
|Olympic Silver medalist, snowboarding
|Olympian, track field
|Elana Meyers Taylor
|Two-time Olympic Silver medalist, bobsled
|Two-time Olympian, X-Games Gold medalist, snowboarding
|Olympic Bronze medalist, luge
|Olympic Gold medalist, rowing
|WSF President, two-time Winter X Games Gold medalist, skiing
|Olympic Gold medalist, skiing
|Olympian, Chelsea FC Women
|Olympian, World Championships Bronze medalist, skiing
|Five-time Winter X Games medalist, skiing
|Seattle Reign FC co-captain
|23-time Paralympic medalist, swimming
|Two-time Olympic medalist, U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, softball
|Professional soccer player, Washington Spirit FC
|World Cup Champion, two-time NCAA Team Champion, gymnastics
|Professional tennis player, member of the WTA player council
|Olympic Gold medalist, rowing
|World Rowing Under 23 Champion
|Retired NWSL player, NCAA Champion
|Olympic Gold medalist, soccer
|Lyn St. James
|Seven-time Indianapolis 500 driver
|Olympian, track & field
|Olympian, Retired NWSL player
|Three-time Women’s Pro Champion, surfing
|Two-time Olympic Gold medalist, rowing
|Retired Professional golfer
|Olympic Bronze medalist, rowing
|Olympic Gold medalist, FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion
|Olympic Gold medalist, U.S. Women’s National Ice Hockey team co-captain
|Olympian, World Rowing Championship Silver medalist
|Three-time Olympic Gold medalist, swimming
|Three-time NCAA All-American, track & field
|Eight-time Paralympic medalist, biathlon, cycling, rowing, skiing
|The True Athlete Project, WomenCAN International President, canoeing
|Three-time X Games Bronze medalist, skiing
|USA Rugby’s Player of the Decade, World Rugby Hall of Fame
|Asian Games Gold medalist, track & field
|Three-time Olympian, field hockey
|World Champion, over 30 First Female Ascents, climbing
|Paralympic Silver medalist, swimming
|Suzy Favor Hamilton
|Three-time Olympian, track & field
|Professional basketball player, SEABL
|USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame
|Professional soccer player, Seattle Reign FC
Join Global Sports Community in Demanding IAAF Rescind Discriminatory Policy
Sign our petition >>