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What statistical data of observational performance can tell us and what they cannot: the case of Dutee Chand v. AFI & IAAF
  1. Simon Franklin1,
  2. Jonathan Ospina Betancurt2,
  3. Silvia Camporesi3
  1. 1 Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK
  2. 2 Faculty of Health Sciences, Physical Activity and Sports Sciences, Isabel I University, Burgos, Spain
  3. 3 Department of Global Health & Social Medicine, King’s College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Simon Franklin, Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK; S.Franklin1{at}

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How can performance data resolve the arbitration of sensitive matters in the world of sports? In the absence of experimental data (ie, clinical trials), researchers must build an argument based on correlations in observational data. Such data are often not widely available. The Dutee Chand v. AFI & IAAF case is a case in point (box ).1


Background on the Dutee Chand v. AFI & IAAF case

IAAF Hyperandrogenism Regulations were in place from 1 May 2011 to 24 July 2015 when they were suspended by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The regulations stated that female athletes who naturally produce levels of testosterone >10 nmol/L were not eligible to compete in the female category and need to take androgen-suppressive drugs to resume competition. Dutee Chand, an Indian sprinter, was asked to abide by these regulations in July 2014 and appealed to CAS on grounds that the regulations unfairly discriminated against women who naturally produced higher levels of testosterone. CAS was not satisfied with the evidence IAAF provided and hence suspended the regulations on 24 July 2015, but allowed the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) up to 2 years (later extended) to submit additional evidence on the correlation between endogenous levels of testosterone and athletic performance. The regulations currently remain suspended until 19 July 2018. …

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  • Contributors SF performed the statistical reanalysis of Bermon and Garnier’s data. JOB provided original data from his doctoral dissertation. SC conceived the idea for the paper, coordinated the team work, was responsible for ensuring the coherence among the different parts and for the final draft of the manuscript. All authors provided feedback at all stages and approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

  • Data sharing statement The doctoral dissertation by JOB (in Spanish) is available for download here ( with username and password to be requested to the author.

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