Tag Archives | Athletes

Olympics Struggle With ‘Policing Femininity’

In a potential move which seems both startlingly futuristic and archaic, the Olympics may require some of the world’s top female athletes to alter their natural bodies through surgery or hormone therapy to become more similar to what the Olympics imagines a “woman” is, if they wish to compete. Time to scrap the outdated two-gender sporting system and experiment with three or more classes? The Toronto Star writes:

There are female athletes who will be competing at the Olympic Games this summer after undergoing treatment to make them less masculine. Still others are being secretly investigated for displaying overly manly characteristics, as sport’s highest medical officials attempt to quantify — and regulate — the hormonal difference between male and female athletes.

Caster Semenya, the South African runner who was so fast and muscular that many suspected she was a man, exploded onto the front pages three years ago. She was considered an outlier, a one-time anomaly.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Perfect Humans – Is It Really Wrong To Enhance Athletes?

Mark_mcgwire

Mark McGwire, St. Louis, 2001. Photo: Rick Dikeman (CC)

Now that the Olympics are over, science writer Quinn Norton asks if there’s contradictory rules when athletes technologically enhance their bodies. “A new injectable hormone will quickly become anathema, but seeking multiple LASIK eye surgeries to get better than 20/20 vision is a professional responsibility… Another instructive example is Tommy John surgery, an operation that replaces the ligament in the elbow that tends to suffer most in baseball pitchers. This surgery lets them pitch harder for longer, and despite being a major surgical modification, it isn’t viewed negatively.”

And here’s an even better example. “Injections of synthetic Erythropoietin to boost performance are a major no-no in sports. It’s considered blood doping. But athletes can produce EPO another way: by sleeping in a hypobaric chamber. This reduces oxygen and air pressure to what it would be somewhere 10,000-15,000 feet above sea level. The body responds by producing its own EPO — and lots of it — to get as much oxygen to the sleeping muscles as it can in the deprived environment.… Read the rest

Continue Reading