Gender determination has becoming an increasingly heated and debated topic in sports. What does it truly mean to have a level playing field in sports? What role should gender determination have in this overarching goal?

The Case of Dutee Chand

Some countries have started their selection process for the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in August, located in Beijing, China. One country in particular – India – faces a dilemma with teen sprint-sensation Dutee Chand, who is currently appealing a ban from the sports international governing body. The IAAF had not allowed Chand to compete as a female due to her body’s natural ability to produce unusually high levels of testosterone. What is a fair process for gender determination in sports?

On preserving athletes privacy

Gender in society used to be thought of as much more black and white – male or female. “In the 1960s, female athletes that looked male were forced to strip during gender testing,” Gillespie said. However, as society changes its views the IAAF must adapt. “Now, the IAAF is trying to have a more scientific approach for gender testing. However, these new tests are proving to be just as harmful for the athletes.”

On fairness

Not everyone gets tested. There aren’t random gender tests as there are for performance enhancing drugs. “The IAAF only tests people “when someone complains and says ‘that person is not a woman,'” Gillespie said.

Can we level the playing field?

“Everyone wants a leveled playing field, but then why are we only doing gender testing for women?” Gillespie said. “There could be men with unusually high levels of testosterone too. There could also be males with unusually low levels of testosterone, so would we then allow them to compete as women? People have genetic advantages. I don’t think we can ever 100% level the playing field.”