In 2011 the IAAF introduced the Hyperandrogenism Regulations in an attempt to deal with a difficult problem; that of ensuring ‘fair’ competition in female athletics as a result of athletes with differences in sexual development competing against women without such conditions. In 2015, following a challenge to those regulations by Indian athlete, Dutee Chand, The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) considered the merit of the regulations and determined that there was insufficient scientific evidence to justify their imposition. The regulations were suspended by the CAS, until more convincing evidence could be provided (CAS 2014/A/3759 Chand v AFI and IAAF
). The IAAF duly commissioned further research (Bermon and Garnier, 2017) and introduced amended regulations (the Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (the DSD Regulations)). Although not universal, the IAAF has faced significant criticism from several angles about its approach to the problem. In particular, there has been criticism of the value of the scientific research on which the regulations are based (Franklin et al., 2018; Karkazis et al., 2012; Koh et al., 2018; Sőnksen et al., 2018; Tucker, 2017, Pielke, Tucker & Boye 2019) and also from those in the ethical and human rights fields seeking to ensure that the rights of individual athletes are protected (Adair, 2011; Buzuvis, 2016; Koh et al., 2018). In light of such criticism, this paper considers the IAAF’s approach in dealing with the perceived problem and considers its conduct against an objective framework of ‘good sporting governance’ (Geeraert, 2013; Henry and Lee 2004). It is this paper’s contention that the IAAF’s approach to rule creation in this area demonstrates less than ideal governance practice and, in doing so, notes the role of historical, cultural and institutional barriers as well as an over-reliance on insufficiently conclusive scientific evidence to provide a seemingly objective solution to a fundamentally more complex problem.
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