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Olympic Panel Gender Is A Medical Concern

A panel of medical experts told the International Olympic Committee that gender identity among athletes should be treated as a medical concern, not one of fairness in competition.

According to TheNew York Times, the group met in Miami Beach, Fla., for two days to come to their conclusion. They said that athletes, particularly female athletes, who have medical disorders that give them masculine characteristics should be diagnosed and treated. They recommended that eligibility for competition be weighed on an individual basis.

Panel members said the athletes' health might be endangered if their disorders are not diagnosed and treated.

"Those who agree to be treated will be permitted to participate," said Maria New, a panelist and an expert on sexual development disorders. "Those who do not agree to be treated on a case-by-case basis will not be permitted."

The recommendations ask sports authorities to send photographs of athletes to experts in order for the expert to determine if the athlete might have a sexual development disorder. The expert would then give a recommendation suggesting further testing or treatment.

Some athletes objected to the panel's conclusions. "If you start to do this, you are making a joke of the fact that there are two classifications -- male and female," said Doriane Coleman, a Duke University law professor and former 800-meter runner. "They might as well open it up and have women competing with men."

The issue of gender ambiguity among elite athletes has come to the fore after South African runner Caster Semenya's performance at the 2009 International Association of Athletics Federations championships. Caster's appearance and improvement in performance led some to question if she was indeed a woman, and she underwent gender testing, the results of which have not been released.

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