IOC Recommends Olympic Gender Testing Centers

By Nikki Dowling
|  Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010  |  Updated 8:06 PM CDT
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In light of the debate over the gender of South African runner Caster Semenya, the International Olympic Committee recommends the establishment of gender-testing centers.

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After a two-day conference with medical specialists, the International Olympic Committee is pushing for the establishment of medical centers equipped to diagnose and treat athletes with “disorders of sex development,” the Associated Press reports.

If an athlete’s gender is called into question he/she would be sent to these centers for evaluation and, if necessary, treatment such as surgery or hormone therapy.

The committee also wants sports officials to implement rules on a “case by case” basis when a competitor’s gender is ambiguous. Committee delegates said, “pre-participation health examinations” could be beneficial as well.

Some countries, including Italy, already perform medical checks to determine athletes’ eligibility.

The move comes after South African runner Caster Semenya was ordered to undergo gender testing after winning the women’s 800 meters in August. Semenya has not yet been cleared to compete again because the runner’s test results are still pending.

Prior to 1999 the IOC used chromosome testing to determine gender. However, this procedure was dropped after being deemed “unscientific and unethical,” according to the Associated Press.
 

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