WMA statement on classifying female athletes


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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The World Medical Association (WMA) has called on physicians around the world “to take no part" in implementing eligibility regulations for classifying female athletes developed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). 

The regulations require female athletes with specific differences in sex development to medically reduce their natural blood testosterone level if they wish to continue racing as women in a few restricted events. The regulations have been challenged by South African runner Caster Semenya who had to undergo gender verification testing to confirm her eligibility to compete in the women’s division. A decision on this challenge is expected this week from the Court of Arbitration for Sport. 

At its Council meeting in Santiago, Chile, last week the WMA demanded the immediate withdrawal of the regulations saying they “constitute a flagrant discrimination based on the genetic variation of female athletes and are contrary to international medical ethics and human rights standards".

WMA President Dr Leonid Eidelman said: “We have strong reservations about the ethical validity of these regulations. They are also contrary to a number of key WMA ethical statements and declarations, and as such we are calling for their immediate withdrawal.”

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