The International Olympic Committee has adopted new guidelines, as transgender athletes are no longer required to have surgery prior to competition.
The new guidelines allow “female to male” with no restriction, while “male to female” athletes will need to maintain a particular testosterone level for a one-year period prior to competition.
The guidelines introduced are not rules nor regulations. According to an interview with the Associated Press, IOC Medical Director Dr. Richard Budgett says they should act as recommendations for international sports federations and groups involved with the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“This should give them the confidence and stimulus to put these rules in place” Budgett said in the interview. The IOC reformed the policy to adapt to current social and political transgender issues.
Leading the medical hearings for the IOC was Professor Uger Erdener.
“It is necessary to ensure in so far as possible that trans athletes are not excluded from the opportunity to participate in sporting competition,” Erdener said to AP, and insists that surgery “may be inconsistent with developing legislation and notions of human rights.”
Since 2003 until now, transgender athletes were required to have reassignment surgery and a minimum of two years of hormonal therapy to become eligible to compete.
Testosterone levels will be carefully tested leading up to any competition. Male to female athletes will need to maintain 10 nanomols per litre, which is a specific concentration of testosterone in the blood. Female to male, who have no particular restriction, will be monitored carefully so athletes do not abuse testosterone levels prior to competition.
Former IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist, who was involved with the makeup of the guidelines, says maintaining this particular concentration will not be easy.
“That does not mean a 1-year guarantee. You don’t go below 10 from day one. It takes quite some time. It can take more than one year or two years,” Ljungqvist told AP.
In 2009, South African runner Caster Semenya won the 800-metre world title. She was also ordered to undergo sex-tests following the victory. The tests were deemed unethical, so introducing new guidelines will help Olympic committees moving forward.