IAAF to use study saying female athletes get large testosterone boost in rule appeal

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A scientific paper published Monday found that women who produce higher-than-normal amounts of testosterone have up to a 4.5 percent advantage over their competition on the track, evidence the sport’s governing body will use to potentially sideline Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya and others with so-called intersex conditions.

The International Association of Athletics Federations will use the new study in its appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which suspended an IAAF rule that enforced a limit on female athletes’ naturally occurring testosterone levels. The appeal will not affect this year’s world championships, where Semenya is expected to go for her third title at 800m

The study, funded by IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency, and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, analyzed more than 2,100 androgen samples from athletes participating in the 2011 and 2013 world championships.

It found females with higher testosterone levels received a competitive advantage of 1.8 percent to 4.5 percent over female athletes with lower testosterone levels in 400- and 800-meter races, hammer throw and pole vault.

“If, as the study shows, in certain events female athletes with higher testosterone levels can have a competitive advantage of between 1.8 to 4.5 percent over female athletes with lower testosterone levels, imagine the magnitude of the advantage for female athletes with testosterone levels in the normal male range,” said one of the study’s authors, Stephane Bermon.

In 2011, the IAAF enacted a rule to force athletes with hyperandrogenism to artificially lower their testosterone levels to be eligible to compete.

Dutee Chand of India contested the rule and CAS overturned it in time for last year’s Olympics. CAS gave the IAAF two years to produce evidence that hyperandrogenism led to an unfair advantage. IAAF will submit the paper, but said it would have no further comment until the case is concluded.

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Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts win three times on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One gymnast has two wins on vault. A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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