The IAAF and the scientific method


A recent article by the respected journalist Jeré Longman appeared in the New York Times. Titled, Did Flawed Data Lead Track Astray on Testosterone in Women?, this feature focuses questions on the whole protocal surrounding the IAAF's defense of their new rules on elevated testosterone levels in some women athletes.

Semenya_CasterFV-Oslo18.jpgCaster Semenya, photo by

The sad story of this whole process dates back nearly two decades, as the Global Federation has dealt with some of these issues for some time, but most of it was in rumors and hushed tones. Then, the abhorrent treatment of a young South African, Caster Semenya, who recieved boos as she took her medal in the Berlin 2009 World Championships. Seemed that, while many knew parts of the story, Semenya, a fine athlete, had no clue why she was being booed. Like the lack of appreciation on doping in sports, it seems that the global sports had underestimated the challenges of elevated testosterone levels in some women athletes.

This upcoming decision on elevated testosterone levels in some women athletes may be based on research that was not sufficiently peer reviewed. The arrogance displayed in this lack of fact checking may have destroyed the last chance for the IAAF to control what some believe is a key challenge for the sport in the future. RunBlogRun finds this troubling.

The New York Times story clearly suggests that the research from which the IAAF based its updated standards is chock full of errors. Mr. Longman notes that a review of the IAAF research shows 220 errors in the research.

If CAS merely reads the The New York Times story, they will be, perhaps, as befuddled as myself as to why the IAAF did not fact check the research and why, with so much riding on the CAS review, the IAAF seems to not have given the defense of their new rules on elevated testosterone in some women athletes the respect it deserves.

Caster Semenya, as is her right, decided to fight the IAAF rules. Caster has showed class and thoughtfulness in the process. I have been impressed to watch her composure over the past nine years.

We applaud the IAAF and Caster Semenya for agreeing to respect the decision from CAS. We will have to wait to see the decision from CAS.

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