Athletes Deserve Safe Workplace Cultures, Too: Sex-Testing at the Olympics

This story is completely baffling. If you are a professional athlete, your workplace is the field – and if you’re an Olympic athlete, your workplace is also the testing facility where you’re checked for doping. However, the practice of sex-testing female athletes – or giving female athletes very invasive check-ups to confirm that they are legitimately women if they happen to be “too muscular” or “too manly” to be believed – has completely ruined lives. There have been very few cases of male athletes impersonating female athletes to get ahead in sport, and most of the time, these tests reveal that a given athlete may be an intersex individual – which affects hormones through no fault of their own. While there is some debate about this issue, what it really comes down to is that there has to be a better and more psychologically safe way to handle this situation: revealing an athlete as an intersex individual has almost always resulted in humiliation, and has sometimes resulted in suicide. Fundamentally, this practice of sex-testing is mortifying and shows a fundamental disregard for female athletes competing at the top of their fields. Olympic athletes deserve psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplaces, just like everyone else – and I wish Dutee Chand, the athlete featured in this story, all the luck in the world this summer at the games. You can read more about Chand and the practice of sex-testing female athletes in the New York Times

Image: Dutee Chand, by Sohrab Hura/Magnum for NYT

Ban Russia from the 2016 Summer Games

There seems to be a lot of debate about whether or not Russia should be banned from the Olympic Games in Rio this summer. Dick Pound, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the founding president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), makes a solid argument for excluding them – however, he does not send a strong enough message. If Russia is allowed to compete next month, what message will it send to today’s youth? Every day, today’s young people are exposed to news stories about lies, harassment, corruption, greed, abuses of power and cheating in almost every realm of society – government, business, religion, the media and arts, etc. The Olympic Games are in a rare position to offer young people a beacon of fairness, setting the example that through healthy competition, people from different walks of life can find common ground. Whether you win or lose, you can be proud of how well you played the game. The IOC has failed us, and more importantly the youth generation, by failing to ban Russia thus far. As Pound puts it, this is no “political issue,” but rather “a matter of tawdry, organized cheating.” The Olympics must transcend the rhetoric and do what’s right by eliminating any internal rot – only then can our young people really have heroes to look up to. You can read Pound's full article at The Globe & Mail.

Image: The 2012 Summer Olympics, via Wikimedia Commons