Friday, February 19, 2010

Bioethics and the Olympics

Our colleague Elizabeth Reis asks: Is intersex a disorder or a competitive advantage? The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is implicitly considering this question as they explicitly grapple with how to handle athletes who have an intersex condition, a discrepancy between genitals, internal sex anatomy (ovaries or testes), hormones, and chromosomes. Intersex bodies have always aroused suspicion on and off the playing field. Now they are under scrutiny again as doctors and sports officials debate whether some naturally occurring factors, like an unusually high level of testosterone, would give certain female athletes an unfair edge over other women in sporting events. You can read more about this issue here.

Elizabeth Reis is the author of Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009). She is associate professor of women’s and gender studies and history at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

2 comments:

Ron said...

This is a concise, sensitive, and scientifically accurate analysis of intersex issues in sports competition. Ms. Reis is both an expert in the field and a writer who expresses difficult concepts clearly and without jargon.

Cindy said...

It is without a doubt one of the most controversial issues to come out. Why can't athletes be judged on their abilities instead of sex organs?