The difference in punch power

I wonder if there’s chaos in the corridors of The Guardian. The Enlightened won’t be liking Tanya Aldred’s piece on fairness in sport.

Without a separate category for females, there would be no women in Olympic finals. Even in the 100m, one of the events with the smallest performance gap, approximately 10,000 men worldwide have personal bests faster than the current Olympic female champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah (10.70sec). And it’s not just track and field. While the smallest attainment gap between the sexes comes in running, rowing and swimming events (11-13%), this moves up to 16%-22% in track cycling, and between 29% and 34% when it comes to bowling cricket balls and weightlifting. The difference in punch power between men and women is a whopping 162%. Not, then, to be sniffed at.

But the IOC sniffed at it, ruling that tweaking testosterone levels is all that’s required.

Increasingly, however, research is showing that these testosterone guidelines do not guarantee the “fair competition” the IOC was hoping for. Ross Tucker, a sports scientist and expert on testosterone advantage in sport, succinctly sums it up: “Lowering of testosterone is almost completely ineffective in taking away the biological differences between males and females.” There is just no proof that reducing testosterone takes away the advantage of muscle mass, strength, lean body mass, muscle size or bone density. Despite this new evidence from Drs Emma Hilton and Tommy Lundberg, the IOC has put off any further decisions making until after Tokyo and left it up to individual sports federations to decide their own transgender policies.

Because, let’s never forget, it’s only women who are harmed by this. Naturally that’s just not very important.

Some claim that this debate is irrelevant as trans women aren’t winning everything, which is true. The simple explanation is that the athletes who have transitioned haven’t generally been good enough. As Tucker says, the best female cyclist will beat 99% of men, but the best men are 10-15% better. And anyway, regardless of whether trans women win or not – whether Hubbard wins or not – it is legitimate to question the rules that allow them in the competition, given the retained advantage. Given the safety issues in combat, collision and some team sports. Given the hidden exclusions, those women and girls who decide that a sport now isn’t for them. And the not so hidden ones: Kuinini “Nini” Manumua, the 21-year-old Tongan who would have gone to her first Olympics if Hubbard hadn’t been selected.

The American cyclist Veronica Ivy (previously known as Rachel McKinnon) says hang the heartache, trans women are women and should simply be able to self-identify themselves into the women’s category at every level.

He’s Canadian actually, and he’s also a smug bully who enjoys looming over the women he just finished cheating.

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