New paper by Karkazis and Carpenter: IAAF regulations create “impossible choices”

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry logo
In a new joint paper in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, Katrina Karkazis and Morgan Carpenter detail the choices and harms involved in unnecessary regulations affecting the participation of some women with intersex variations in elite sport.

In April 2018, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) released new regulations placing a ceiling on women athletes’ natural testosterone levels to “ensure fair and meaningful competition.” The regulations revise previous ones with the same intent. They require women with higher natural levels of testosterone and androgen sensitivity who compete in a set of “restricted” events to lower their testosterone levels to below a designated threshold. If they do not lower their testosterone, women may compete in the male category, in an intersex category, at the national level, or in unrestricted events. Women may also challenge the regulation, whether or not they have lowered their testosterone, or quit sport. Irrespective of IAAF’s stated aims, the options forced by the new regulations are impossible choices. They violate dignity, threaten privacy, and mete out both suspicion and judgement on the sex and gender identity of the athletes regulated.

Katrina Karkazis and Morgan Carpenter. 2018. ‘Impossible “choices”: The inherent harms of regulating women’s testosterone in sport’. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 15(4).

The new IAAF regulations unwisely and inappropriately implicate all intersex people through their use of “DSD” terminology and reference to new sex classifications.


These publications were produced in connection with Morgan’s studies at Sydney Health Ethics, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, and his roles with IHRA and GATE.