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Commentary |

Gender Verification in the Olympics

Joe Leigh Simpson, MD; Arne Ljungqvist, MD; Malcolm A. Ferguson-Smith, MB, ChB, FRCPath; Albert de la Chapelle, MD, PhD; Louis J. Elsas II, MD; A. A. Ehrhardt, PhD; Myron Genel, MD; Elizabeth A. Ferris, MBBS; Alison Carlson
JAMA. 2000;284(12):1568-1569. doi:10.1001/jama.284.12.1568.
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For nearly 15 years, we have advocated abolition of laboratory-based, on-site testing for gender verification in sports competition.111 The ostensible goal of gender verification is to ensure that female athletes do not unwittingly compete against men. Given that men presumably would have an unfair competitive advantage on the basis of speed or muscle mass, such a policy superficially seems endorsable on the grounds of fairness. In reality, gender verification tests are difficult, expensive, and potentially inaccurate.1,4,8,10 Furthermore, these tests fail to exclude all potential impostors (eg, some 46,XX males), are discriminatory against women with disorders of sexual development, and may have shattering consequences for athletes who "fail" a test.1,4,10



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