IILJ Emerging Scholars Paper 25 (2016)

To Be a Woman in the World of Sport: Global Regulation of the Gender Binary in Elite Athletics

Michele Krech

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Indian sprinter, Dutee Chand, made headlines and history when she successfully challenged the validity of an international rule of athletics that disqualified her from competition because of the “masculine” level of naturally-occurring testosterone in her body. The decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Chand’s favour demonstrates that the International Association of Athletics Federations, despite being the duly authorized regulator of international athletics competition, does not operate unconstrained in policing the boundaries of sex and gender, particularly when it does so in a discriminatory manner. Rather, a number of accountability principles and mechanisms of so-called “global administrative law” must be satisfied to justify any rule for dividing elite athletes into binary sex categories. This paper considers the particular administrative law requirements that, pursuant to the landmark decision in Chand’s case, must characterize the development, implementation, and review of international sporting rules, particularly those that discriminate on the basis of sex or gender. In doing so, it illustrates that global administrative law has an important role to play in protecting and promoting gender equality in sport.