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Gender Verification and Gender Policies in Elite Sport: Eligibility and “Fair Play”

Sex-segregated sports require governing bodies to clearly and accurately place athletes in two categories, one labeled “men” and the other labeled “women.” Sports governing bodies such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) used sex testing procedures to attempt to verify the sex of athletes competing in women’s events. In 2004, the IOC introduced the Stockholm Consensus to regulate the inclusion of, primarily, male-to-female transsexual athletes, to compete at the Olympic Games. These governing bodies, and others, are dealing with society’s basic categorization of humans and thus are entangled in attempts to scientifically and medically define sex. This article will focus on the history and implications of gender-verification testing and gender policy on notions of “fair play” and athlete eligibility.