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Sex segregation and sport
  1. Arne Ljungqvist
  1. Correspondence to Dr Arne Ljungqvist, Anti-Doping Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden; arne.ljungqvist{at}

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After the second world war, success in elite sport slowly became increasingly important for both the individual athlete and his/her country. Since success in most sports depends on physical strength, men usually outperform women to a significant degree due to their higher levels of the male sex hormone testosterone which is a powerful androgenic-anabolic substance. Consequently, it also became increasingly important to protect female competitions from male imposters. Procedures for this purpose were introduced as from the 1960s and named ‘Gender verification’. As science developed, however, the procedures were found to be either unscientific or unethical, or both. After a lengthy struggle, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) was the first international sports organisation to abandon so-called gender verification in 1991.1 Eight years later, the IOC did the same, and the remaining international sports federations followed suit. At that time, the issue of participation of transgender athletes was not specifically addressed in sport.

In 2003, a National Olympic Committee asked the …

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  • Handling editor Karim M Khan

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.