Policy ForumSCIENCE AND SOCIETY

Debating a testosterone “sex gap”

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Science  22 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6237, pp. 858-860
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab1057

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Summary

Sexual dimorphism of testosterone (T) in elite athletes was at the center of a recent case at the “Supreme Court of Sport,” the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, after teenage Indian sprinter Dutee Chand challenged a sports policy regulating competition eligibility of women with naturally high T. The idea of a “sex gap” in T is a cornerstone of this policy (1). Policymakers infer that men's higher T is the “one factor [that] makes a decisive difference” between men's and women's athletic performances (2)—so that women with naturally high T may unfairly enjoy a “massive androgenic advantage” over other women athletes (2). We report on an emerging scientific debate about whether the sex gap in T applies to elite athletes.