The fairest of them all: Gender-determining institutions and the science of sex testing

Madeleine Laura Pape*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: In this chapter, I analyze proceedings from 2015 when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was asked to determine whether Dutee Chand, an Indian sprinter, could compete as a female athlete. Excluded on the basis that her naturally high testosterone levels conferred an unfair athletic advantage, Chand argued that existing policies in international sport were scientifically flawed. The purpose of the analysis is to examine whether the case led to a shift in the gender politics of sport, law, and science. Methodology/Approach: I present a textual analysis of the arbitral award document, drawing on feminist methodology to identify where and how the adjudicating panel's assessment of the case was gendered. Findings: The CAS decision defined the right to compete as primarily a matter for science to decide, in the process obscuring the gendered and tilted playing field upon which scientific knowledge production takes place. Furthermore, the right to unconditional recognition as a woman was reduced to science alone. Social Implications: My analysis reveals that Chand's victory is a precarious one, with binary and biologized models of sex and gender prevailing when the institutions of sport, law, and science determine the policy boundaries of "fair play" for female athletes. Originality/Value of Study: This chapter shows how the institutions of sport, law, and science work together to determine gender. As a consequence, even feminist versions of the biology of sex difference risk reifying the authority of science as the dominant knowledge form within the institutional spaces of sport and law.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-200
Number of pages24
JournalAdvances in Gender Research
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Gender
  • Law
  • Policy
  • Science
  • Sex difference
  • Sports

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Cultural Studies


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