Billie Jean King, Abby Wambach among signees of open letter criticizing new IAAF eligibility regulations
Athlete Ally, an organization committed to achieving LGBTQ equality in sports, and the Women's Sports Foundation today released an open letter calling on the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) to revoke new standards that determine an athlete's gender. The requirement, which would go into effect in November, lowers the range of acceptable testosterone levels among women in the 400m, 800m and 1500m track events.
Signed by 64 athletes, including Billie Jean King, Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe and Dutee Chand, the letter argues that the regulations "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."
The rule is being challenged at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) by South African runner Caster Semenya, who critics of the standard say is the target of the new requirements. Semenya, who won 800m gold in the World Championships in 2009, was subjected to a gender test while some of her competitors started questioning her times. Chand, an Indian sprinter with naturally high levels of testosterone, previously fought similar regulations at the CAS and in 2015 won her right to compete.
"As sports fans, we celebrate exceptional athleticism due to any number of physical characteristics," Rapinoe said in a separate statement. "We celebrate Michael Phelps and Yao Ming. Caster is no different. She is a talented athlete who should not be forced to alter her body when there is no significant scientific evidence that she has any kind of unfair competitive advantage. This is just another way in which sport governing bodies police dominant female athletes -- but never our male counterparts."
The Athlete Ally letter asserts: "No woman should be required to change her body to compete in women's sport."