The IAAF today became the first international sports federation to approve the adoption of new rules and regulations governing the eligibility of females with hyperandrogenism* to compete in women’s competition.
The IAAF Council’s decision is the culmination of an 18 month-long review by an IAAF expert working group who have studied issues relating to the participation of female athletes with hyperandrogenism in athletics. This group has worked in close co-ordination with the IOC Medical Commission throughout this period and also participated in a series of international expert meetings held on the subject in 2010.
The new rules and regulations, which will be published and come into force for all International Competitions on 1 May 2011, provide for the following key principles:
- Competition in athletics will continue to be divided into men’s and women’s competition recognising that there is a difference in sporting performance between elite men and women, that is predominantly due to higher levels of androgenic hormones in men;
- A female with hyperandrogenism who is recognised as a female in law shall be eligible to compete in women’s competition in athletics provided that she has androgen levels below the male range (measured by reference to testosterone levels in serum) or, if she has androgen levels within the male range she also has an androgen resistance which means that she derives no competitive advantage from such levels;
- A pool of international medical experts has been appointed by the IAAF to review cases referred to it under the regulations as an independent expert medical panel and to make recommendations to the IAAF in such cases to decide on the eligibility of female athletes with hyperandrogenism;
- A 3-level medical process under the regulations shall ensure that all potentially relevant data is made available to the expert medical panel for the purposes of evaluating an athlete’s eligibility. This medical process may include, where necessary, the expert medical panel referring an athlete with potential hyperandrogenism for full examination and diagnosis in accordance with best medical practice at one of the 6 IAAF-approved specialist reference centres around the world;
- The medical process under the regulations shall be conducted in strict confidentiality and all cases shall be referred to the expert medical panel on an anonymous basis;
- A female athlete who declines, fails or refuses to comply with the eligibility determination process under the regulations shall not be eligible to compete in women’s competition.
The IAAF Council has further today modified its existing regulations concerning the participation in women’s competition of athletes who have undergone male to female sex reassignment. These regulations shall also be published on 1 May 2011.
*Hyperandrogenism is a term used to describe the excessive production of androgens (testosterone).