Ever since women were allowed to compete in the Olympics, they have been subjected to some form of gender verification. Initially, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) required female athletes to present certificates from their doctors confirming that they were in fact women. In 1966, the IOC and the IAAF “decided they couldn’t trust individual nations to certify femininity, and instead implemented a mandatory genital check of every woman competing at international games.” This process was dubbed the “nude parades”. In response to the overwhelming disapproval of such examination, the IOC and IAAF began implementing the Chromatin Test. This test also faced intense criticism and was disposed of in 1999. Even though the IOC and the IAAF have abandoned universal compulsory gender examination, these organizations seem to have continued interest in policing gender. In 2011, the IAAF developed a new policy dubbed as the “Hyperandrogenism Regulation” that focused on female athletes with elevated levels of androgen. The IOC, in 2012 adopted a similar policy.

This Note will evaluate the discriminatory and scientific issues surrounding gender verification examinations. For a better understanding of gender verification examinations, Part I of this Note will briefly outline the history of gender verification examinations. Part II will discuss the problems with the various tests that the IOC and IAAF have adopted throughout the years. More specifically, it will discuss the discriminatory effect of each type of gender verification procedure, and the scientific shortcomings of each. Part III will discuss the legal implications of the Testosterone Test which is currently implemented by the IOC and the IAAF under the “Hyperandrogenism Regulations.” Finally, Part IV will call for the elimination of gender testing.



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