Beijing lab to verify female athletes female
Males posing as female athletes will be out of luck this Olympics, Xinhua reported on Sunday, as Beijing has set up a lab to test Olympians suspected of misrepresenting their sex.
Suspected athletes will be evaluated from their external appearances by experts and undergo blood tests to examine their sex hormones, genes and chromosomes for sex determination, according to Prof. Tian Qinjie of Peking Union Medical College Hospital.
Initial test results would be available in three days, while an official result takes seven days, he said.
The test aims to maintain fairness of the Games, and to rule out inaccurate test results.
Polish runner Ewar Kobukkowska, who won a gold medal in the women's 4 X 100 meter relay and the bronze in the women's 100 meter sprint at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, was the first athlete to be caught in a gender test after she failed the early form of a chromosome test in 1967.
She was found to have a rare genetic condition which gave her no advantage over other athletes, but was nonetheless banned from competing in the Olympics and professional sports.
The ethical implications of the test and the notion of reducing female athletes to their sex chromosomes led to the International Olympic Committee’s decision in 1999 to stop requiring chromosome tests for every female Olympian; now the organizing body has the authority to arrange for gender verification if it is called into question.
At the 1996 Atlanta Games, eight athletes failed the tests but were all cleared by subsequent examinations. Santhi Soundarajan, a middle-distance runner from India, was stripped of an Asian Games silver medal in 2006 after failing a gender verification test.
What do you think? Is the possibility of male athletes posing as women in the Olympics great enough to warrant such testing? Or are these tests inappropriate?