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


I have transcribed an interview of Stéphane 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.


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.


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


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.”


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Evidence that is so flawed that it should have been retracted from the scientific literature, as we have documented in peer-reviewed research.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.

Pielke Comments on Semenya/ASA vs. IAAF


UPDATE: CAS has now released an “executive summary” of the judgment, here in PDF. Nothing in that summary alters anything in my analysis below.

In a 2-1 split decision, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled against Caster Semenya and in favor of the IAAF. The decision legitimizes the discriminatory regulations of the IAAF. The characterization of the regulations as “discriminatory” is not mine, it is that of CAS, which finds the regulations to be discriminatory, but nonetheless necessary to protect some women from some other women.

The New York Times characterizes the decision as follows: “The highest court in international sports issued a landmark but nuanced ruling on Wednesday that will force female track athletes with elevated levels of testosterone to take suppressants to compete in certain women’s races at major international events like the Olympics.” [Note: According to the NYT the original quote I used was edited out of its story: “The decision by the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport provided a resounding victory for track and field’s world governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, or I.A.A.F.”] While the bottom line result can certainly be interpreted this way, the decision is not without nuance, complexity, confusion and contradictions. Semenya’s legal team has said that they are considering an appeal.

In this post I will comment on the CAS decision — based on its two-page press release today (PDF) – from the standpoint of scientific integrity, a topic which I’ve discussed related to these regulations for several years, long pre-dating this arbitration proceeding.

As you may know, I was a pro bono expert witness in the proceedings for Semenya. My comments here are my personal views alone. I will comment on further issues when the full decision is made available. I am not  lawyer or a doctor. I have worked on issues surrounding the use and misuse of science in policy making for more than 25 years. As well, I have published peer-reviewed research on the issue of “sex testing” in sport as well as with colleagues on the issues of scientific integrity at play in this case. So with that throat clearing … Today, I have three main reactions. Continue reading “Pielke Comments on Semenya/ASA vs. IAAF”

Twitter Thread on the Biology of Sex and Sex Testing

In the Twitter thread above I explain that that while biological sex is of course real, the quest for a 100% certain biological “sex test” has never succeeded. Sport regulation of gender categories needs to accept this reality. Have a read through if interested. I’m posting her for future sharing.

Announcement: CU Boulder Sports Governance Center Shutting Down


In 2012 we initiated an effort to create an academic unit within the athletics department at the University of Colorado Boulder. Four years later we announced the establishment of the Sports Governance Center. Since then, we have achieved a number of notable successes.

Regrettably, leadership at CU Boulder has decided not to take this innovative program forward. Starting fall, 2019 the activities of the Sports Governance Center will cease.

Continue reading “Announcement: CU Boulder Sports Governance Center Shutting Down”

New Paper: Normalised insurance losses from Australian natural disasters: 1966–2017


Out today!

McAneney, J., B. Sandercock, R. Crompton, T. Mortlock, R. Musulin, R. Pielke, Jr., and A. Gissing. (2020, in press). Normalised Insurance Losses from Australian Natural Disasters: 1966-2017, Environmental Hazards. doi.org/10.1080/17477891.2019.1609406 (open access)

ABSTRACT:  The paper updates normalisation of the Insurance Council of Australia’s Disaster List in the light of debate about the contribution of global warming to the rising cost of natural disasters. Normalisation estimates losses from historical events in a common year, here ‘season’ 2017 defined as the 12-month period from 1 July 2017. The number and nominal cost of new residential dwellings are key normalising factors and post-1974 improvements in construction standards in tropical cyclone-prone parts of the country are explicitly allowed for. 94% of the normalised losses arise from weather-related perils – bushfires, tropical cyclones, floods and severe storms – with the 1999 Sydney hailstorm the most costly single event (AUD5.6 billion). When aggregated by season, there is no trend in normalised losses from weather-related perils; in other words, after we normalise for changes we know to have taken place, no residual signal remains to be explained by changes in the occurrence of extreme weather events, regardless of cause. In sum, the rising cost of natural disasters is being driven by where and how we chose to live and with more people living in vulnerable locations with more to lose, natural disasters remain an important problem irrespective of a warming climate.