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Testosterone expert Karkazis says IAAF has no evidence to back its claims

The IAAF has proposed new regulations that will force athletes to take suppressants to compete in a middle-distance race.

FILE: Picture: IAAF.org

CAPE TOWN - Cultural anthropologist Katrina Karkazis, the author of Testosterone: An Unauthorized Biography, says the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) claims about natural testosterone in women and its relations to performance does not have the scientific evidence to back it up.

The IAAF has proposed new regulations that will force athletes to take suppressants to compete in a middle-distance race.

Double Olympic champion Caster Semenya is looking to overturn this policy at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Karkazis contributed to Indian sprinter Dutee Chand’s successful appeal of the IAAF’s testosterone regulation at the CAS and served as an expert witness in the hearing in 2015, a case similar in nature to Semenya’s.

Speaking on the IAAF’s claims and policy, Karkazis says it is a complex matter while criticising the athletics governing body: “It does not bring the kind of performance advantage that they’re claiming it does. It’s one factor among many that contribute to athleticism. It is not a decisive factor. So, it is impossible to say and it is untrue that people with the highest levels [of testosterone] do better. And that there is a kind of dose-response relationship, that this much more testosterone confers this much more performance benefit. It is far more complicated than this, and the evidence doesn't support those kinds of statements.”

Karkazis is not the only expert to say the IAAF’s policy does not have the backing of science.

The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (Saids) chairperson Dr Shuaib Manjra says: “The IAAF is making a call on issues that science does not know, but we don’t have a category for such athletes. So, my position is if you don’t have a category, these athletes should be allowed to compete in the races where they get to categorise themselves, for example, Caster [Semenya] as a female.”

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