What is fairness?

When Caster Semenya completed her historic race, the blogosphere ran rife with comments accusing her of foul play. Her crime? Possessing a masculine biology. Many believed that this allowed Caster to run faster than a woman would normally be able. I understand the need for the IOC to limit the advantages competitors can have over one another; this keeps game fair, meaning that participants generally perform on an even playing field. For example, they could not allow one runner to begin earlier than the others.

However, being intersex does not necessarily constitute an advantage. As Wonkam, Fieggen, and Ramesar explain, “women with CAH are expected to be shorter than average” (547) (a disadvantage for basketball) and suffer from salt loss which leads to fatigability (547). Furthermore, as Laura Hercher asserts, “genetic advantages are the norm and not the exception in competitive sports” (552). Most athletes are not of average build; their genetics led them to be taller or more muscular than average. Biology cannot be used as a method to achieve fairness as athletes have already utilized biological differences- ones that have allowed them to perform at such a high level. If intersex players possibly have some sort of biological advantage, then they are no different from the other players who also possess some advantage.

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