IAAF denies locking women out of athletics

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has not and will never try to prevent women from participating in athletics, the global athletics governing body has said.

The federation was responding to claims made in an open letter written by the US-based Women’s Sports Foundation that the IAAF’s new female classification rule is geared towards locking women out of athletics competitions.

It said in a press statement on Tuesday that it has been one of the foremost advocates for women’s sport for almost a century.

It has long championed equal access to competition and equal prize money at a time when many other sports still discriminate in this area.

Under the new IAAF regulation, which come into effect on 1 November, women with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD/intersex) will be eligible to compete in any event at domestic level, the IAAF said in a press statement.

They will be eligible to compete in all but distances from 400m up to 1 mile on the international championship programme.

“They will also be eligible to compete in those distances if they take measures to ensure their testosterone levels are under 5nmol/L (which puts them on an even playing field with the rest of the female population),” said the international federation.

The IAAF has been criticised and accused by among others, the South African Olympic body, who claimed that the rules are geared towards locking specific athletes out of international competitions,

They claimed that the regulations appeared to target, women 800 metres Olympic champion Caster Semenya, a South African, whose gender has been questioned in the past.

At one point, the IAAF subjected her to a gender test, but did not public its findings.

The IAAF says it seeks only to maintain a fair and meaningful category for women to compete in athletics. It makes no judgment about gender or sexual identity.

It says it has only acted upon the scientific evidence established by esteemed scientists around the world.

Evidence, shows there is correlation between testosterone and performance in at least certain specific athletic events.

“Women who produce testosterone in the normal male range, and are androgen-sensitive, thereby enjoy a substantial physical advantage over women who produce testosterone in the normal female range,” IAAF said.