Caster Semenya ruling: sports federation is flouting ethics rules

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I have a Worldview column in Nature on the flouting of research and medical ethics guidelines by the IAAF in its rush to eliminate certain women from elite sport.

While controversy swirls around issues of sport, sex, gender and fairness, another crucial issue is being overlooked: in my view, such athletes are in effect being asked to act as guinea pigs in medical research, but without the oversight or qualifications that society demands.

Read the whole thing for free here.

A New US Areal No Drought Record

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The graph above shows data for the entire period covered by the US Drought Monitor. This week marks the first time in the record that >90% of the US has experienced conditions of NO drought. Some further info:

  • Since 2000, the linear trend in the data indicates that the overall proportion of the US experiencing no drought conditions increased from about 50% to about 60%.
  • According to the Drought Monitor, more than 283 million people currently live in regions experiencing no drought. This is the most people in the history of the US to experience no drought conditions at once.

Climate change is real, and deserving of of aggressive policies for mitigation and adaptation. But the significance of the issue does not subtract from the importance of accurately presenting the science of extremes.

Looking Back at IAAF Comments on DSD Regulations Made in April, 2018


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I have transcribed an interview of St├ęphane Bermon who is Director of the IAAF Health and Science Department and a chief architect of the IAAF DSD regulations. He is also the lead author of work supporting the regulations that we have critiqued. The interview was conducted just over one year ago, on the release of the IAAF DSD Regulations, with Tracey Holmes of ABC Australia The Ticket and it is archived here. The transcript below is cleaned up a bit from the spoken English, but otherwise I think accurate.

Dr. Bermon says some remarkable things, viewed now with hindsight, and I am posting here for my own future use. They may be useful to others as well.

Continue reading “Looking Back at IAAF Comments on DSD Regulations Made in April, 2018”

No Evidence? No Problem. IAAF Refuses CAS Request. No Surprise.

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It the executive summary of its decision on Caster Semenya released yesterday, Court of Arbitration for Sport noted a “paucity of evidence” related to the inclusion of the 1500m and mile under its restricted events.

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Based on the lacking evidence base, CAS asked IAAF to reconsider inclusion of these two events.

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One would think that a lack of evidence might give pause in policy making justified as evidence based. Ha! Think again.

Less than 24 hours after the CAS ruling was released IAAF has already rejected this recommendation by CAS, telling Andy Brown at the Sports Integrity Initiative that they “have enough evidence.”

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What evidence is IAAF relying on?

Evidence that is so flawed that it should have been retracted from the scientific literature, as we have documented in peer-reviewed research. The treatment of the 1500m in this little episode is an apt metaphor for the overall role of evidence through the CAS Semenya proceedings.