Caster Semenya will have to suppress her testosterone to keep competing as a sprinter. (CBC Article)
This echoes something I was saying when I wrote about the The Virility Paradox, eventually we may have to organize sport not by gender but by hormone.
It’s not fair to Caster to have to medically dial down her natural athleticism and it’s not fair for others to have to compete against someone who has testosterone levels as high as someone doping testosterone.
But this ethical question then has to be applied to other sports as well. Dean Karnazes, one of the greatest runners in the world for those new to the blog, mentions in his TedTalk that he’s been examined and found that his body clears the by-product of exertion (commonly called lactic acid but is actually hydrogen ions) at an absurdly efficient rate. Or there was a runner mentioned in what I was reading last night, a multiple record holder who simply had the highest max heart rate ever seen. What do we do about them?
Even deeper though we have to ask what is the point of sport? What question are we seeking to answer by having people run arbitrary distances or score meaningless points?
Near as I can tell we’re trying to answer who trained better. That’s why it’s not okay to get a technological or chemical advantage that lessens the work of training. You can hire a coach and that gives you an advantage – their knowledge as opposed to your own – but the training workload still falls on you, we still declare that you earned the victory.
But then really someone who trained badly – ran themselves into the ground with overtraining while you recovered – should actually earn the victory. If it were purely about who worked harder.
Like I’ve said this is a bigger question than I can answer and I could write about it all day without getting to anything so I’ll let it go…