Rights Group Demands End to Sex Testing of Female Track Athletes

The report was based on interviews last year with 13 female athletes from African and Asian countries, as well as input from lawyers, doctors, academics and medical ethicists. Annet Negesa, an intersex middle-distance runner from Uganda, told researchers that an operation to remove her internal testes was performed in 2012 without her consent. The operation, she said, left her battling headaches and achy joints and ruined her career.

Another athlete, identified by her initials as J.G., said in the report that once she was declared ineligible because of testosterone regulations, she lost her career, could not get a job and struggled to eat. “My life is over,” she said.

Payoshni Mitra, an Indian scholar and athletes’ rights advocate who was a co-author of the report, said in a telephone interview from London that “regulating fair play is understandable. Committing human rights violations in the process is not acceptable. And that is what World Athletics is doing.”

Human Rights Watch called on World Athletics to immediately rescind its testosterone regulations. And it implored the International Olympic Committee to uphold the Olympic Charter, which prohibits discrimination of any kind, and to develop guidelines that meet the standards of international human rights and medical ethics.

In a statement, World Athletics rejected the accusation that biological limits set on athletes competing in certain women’s events were based on race or gender stereotypes. Rather, the governing body said, the testosterone regulations provide “an objective and scientific measure” to preserve equitable competition.

The International Olympic Committee said it was working on inclusivity guidelines to “ensure fairness, safety and non-discrimination of athletes on the basis of gender identity and sex characteristics.”

A 2017 study, commissioned by World Athletics and later challenged by independent researchers, said that women with D.S.D.s tended to have distinct advantages in races from a quarter mile to a mile, distances that require a combination of speed and endurance.