Sociomedical scientist Rebecca Jordan-Young, associate professor of women's, gender, and sexuality studies, has published an opinion piece in The Guardian, addressing the International Olympic Committee's new policy on male-female testosterone levels. An excerpt from the article by Prof. Jordan-Young and her colleague Katrina Karkazis of Stanford University:
It's downright chilling that instead of discouraging the abuse of hyperandrogenism charges to harass women athletes, the IOC has actually called for the National Olympic Committees to "actively investigate any perceived deviation in sex characteristics" (pdf) among female athletes. (The accompanying bland suggestion that sanctions "may" be imposed on anyone found to ask for an investigation of an athlete in bad faith is not reassuring.)
The IOC is charged with ensuring that women's competitions are fair. We appreciate this responsibility, but strongly disagree with how they are discharging their duty.
Why? Start with the faulty logic behind the policy, which links two common but inaccurate assertions about testosterone. The first is that male and female elite athletes have clear and distinct testosterone levels. Justifying the policies in the New York Times, Professor Eric Vilain, a medical geneticist at UCLA and an adviser to the IOC, claims that male and female ranges do not overlap – "between them is 'a huge no man's land.'" The IOC then projects this supposed gap onto differences in male and female athletic performance, claiming that they "differ mainly due to the fact that men produce significantly more androgenic hormones than women."
Prof. Jordan-Young is also quoted in The Boston Globe:
"You would have to have evidence that women beyond a certain testosterone level in fact performed consistently better than women below that level. There is no data on that. Zip," said Rebecca Jordan-Young, associate professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Barnard College.
Prof. Jordan-Young's research and commentary on this issue has also appeared in The New York Times, TIME magazine, and more.