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URGENT CALL-TO-ACTION | World Athletics: Launch Independent Review into Female Eligibility Criteria

Updated: Aug 27, 2021

The international equality-in-sport charity, equitysport call for the immediate suspension of World Athletics female eligibility regulations pending a fully independent review into their scientific basis.

With thanks to Roger Pielke Jr. for assistance in developing this open letter.

World Athletics HQ

6-8 Quai Antoine 1er

Monaco Port Hercules

Dear The Right Honourable the Lord Coe CH KBE,

On Tuesday 17th August, 2021, the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) published a correction to the 2017 research paper which underpins the World Athletics eligibility regulations for female athletes.

The regulations, which came into force in 2018, only apply to women with particular variations in sex characteristics - referred by the governing body as DSD (Differences of Sexual Development), and require certain athletes to reduce their blood testosterone to a level specified by World Athletics.

These regulations have come under significant scrutiny for their impact on athletes' rights to non-discrimination, as well as the continued use of a single biological marker for determining sex.

The original 2017 paper argued a causal relationship between testosterone levels and athletic performance among women, but just for certain events. This happened to include events run by Caster Semenya, the South African runner targeted by the regulations, and more recently Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi of Namibia.

We, at equitysport, have long held a position that these regulations and the requirement for particular athletes to engage in medically unnecessary interventions deny certain women an equal right to participate in sport. Our position fully supports the position of the United Nations Human Rights Council that the current sex-testing apparatus and criteria set by World Athletics and the IOC risk violating a number of human rights.

In the BJSM correction published on 17th August, World Athletics now admits that its claims to the scientific basis for the regulations, i.e. for the causal relationship between testosterone levels and athletic performance among female athletes in the restricted events, was incorrect.

"To be explicit, there is no confirmatory evidence for causality in the observed relationships reported. . . With this in mind, we recognise that statements in the paper could have been misleading by implying a causal inference."

World Athletics, for its part in the correction, has called for an independent scientific review to "establish confirmatory scientific evidence for the causal relationship between the variables analysed."

Without confirmatory scientific evidence, there is no justification for the continued application of the World Athletics female eligibility regulations and we, the undersigned, call for the following steps to be actioned immediately by World Athletics:

1. An immediate independent review of the scientific claims found within the World Athletics DSD regulations should be undertaken by an authoritative organisation completely independent to World Athletics and the International Olympic Committee.

2. While such a review is taking place, the World Athletics female eligibility regulations should be suspended, with immediate effect.

3. The full results of the independent review must be made public at the earliest opportunity.

Yours sincerely,



To sign as a representative of an organisation, group or institution, please email


Co-signatories (updated regularly):

Bruce Nadin

Caradh O'Donovan

Felix Masigwa

Vinod Butola

W.E Jongsma

Fidelis Wambui

Sophia Nimphius

Tanweer Ahmad

Gary James Hughes

Abu Guot

Ajok Docus

A K English

Akello Magret

Akoth E

Alex Sang

Amy Cook

Anant Trivedi

Andrew Koock

Angela Allibone

Atal Stella

Avice Meya

Barbara Pires

Bernadette Jennings

Bram Brouwer Ph.D.

Brenda Sarah

Brian Mureri

Brij Pal Singh

Carly Alakija

Castro Uulumbu

Chaps Chiccollatta

Charlene Hogg

Cheryl Smith

Chris Kama

Christine Simpkin

Corey Nicholls

David Dungate

Dr Lombe Mwambwa

Dumisani Chauke

Eko Dydda

Elma Kemp

Esther Maina

Ewurama Kakraba

Fancy Nyanchama

Hadija Namanda

Heather Westall

Heather Cooper

Hiire Isaac

Ian Ladbrooke

Jagroop Singh

James Mendes

James Taylor

Jan de Groot

Joyce Juma

Kahuru Mwangi

Kelly Humphries

Kenneth Johnson

Laura Burrows

Liam Elphick

Lindiwe Khumalo

Lisa A Kihl

Lucy Mwende


Mankwe Semenya

Marissa Langeni

Mark Bobbitt

Mark Mnang'At Psinen

Maximila Imali

Melissa Awu

Michael Francis Bazzant

Mj Bassong

Moraa Faith

Muditambi Ravele

Mugo Kevin

Mwatilange Vaeta

Nana Adom-Aboagye

Navies Mageto Migosi

Neha Gupta


Nshuti Richard Rubangura



Pauline Muhonja

Pearl Shipalana

Peta Spyrou

Pete Lanard

Piotr Rawinski

Prabhjot Singh

Pramod Prafulchand


Reuben Okutoi Indimuli

Robert Theuri

Robyn Smith

Roisin Mccallion

Rosalind Brian

Sanchari Sarkar

Silas Ekoine

Siyabulela Loyilane

Sonia Hurley


Tim Harper

Tineke Schokker-Strampel

Udit Handa

Velly Moutloali

Wieger Guldemond

Wilfred Kigen


equitysport is a UK-registered charity (1189559) that exists to advance and promote equality, diversity and equal opportunity in and through global sport. Through free-form development, education programmes and targeted advocacy the charity seeks an inclusive and equitable sporting ecosystem that lives up to the true values of sport.

Notes to Editors

For interviews or further comment from equitysport, please contact the team via:

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