@DesiFootyStats It’s different by scale (a lot) and concept. First, scale. Phelps was about 0.2-0.4% better than his rivals. Indeed, he even lost races. His “advantage” was worth about half an arm length. Compared to the male vs female advantage, that’s tiny. M vs F is about 10-12%, so Phelps
@DesiFootyStats …would be about FIVE body lengths ahead of Ledecky or McKeown. The M vs F difference is enormous, way way bigger than anything that exists within males because of long arms or whatever other simplified theory one has for why an athlete wins.

Next, let’s talk concept.
@DesiFootyStats Let’s begin by asking “why do categories exist in sport?” What’s the reason we have a women’s event, or a lightweight boxing title, or age categories etc?

The answer is that we create categories because we want the outcome of a sports event to have meaning and be a way to
@DesiFootyStats …celebrate the athletic traits that matter. For instance, in boxing we want to reward speed, balance, skill, endurance, power, strength. But if we did not have categories for smaller boxers, these attributes would be “drowned out” or overwhelmed by size. The best boxer would
@DesiFootyStats …always be the biggest one, because that one thing distorts the outcome so much that we can no longer reward the others. Same thing is true for sex. Without a category for women, male advantages due to T are so large that they overwhelm all the other athletic traits that we
@DesiFootyStats …actually want to identify and reward. So, what categories do is “exclude” or filter out the distorting property so that it no longer overhead the properties we actually wish to celebrate through sport. Hence, long arms is nothing at all like being male. Also, just think about
@DesiFootyStats …it for a second. Do we really believe that there are no women with long arms? Or for 100m, do we really think that no women have fast twitch fibers and biochemistry like Usain bolt? Of course they do! Elaine Thompson does. So she should be celebrated for it. But, she is still
@DesiFootyStats …12% behind Bolt, even though she has “all the right stuff” to be a champion athlete. For that reason, we need to have a category that “filters out” the thing that makes Bolt 10-12% faster, and thus reward Thompson for being his equal in terms of having what actually matters.
@DesiFootyStats So, in short, the sex categories are nothing like the natural advantages that occur to create champions. And finally, this argument about “all natural advantages should be allowed, they’re the same” is actually an argument FOR the abolition of all categories in sport. After all,
@DesiFootyStats …if we are gonna use this “logic” that athletes have natural advantages and we allow them so should just accept it, then why draw a line anywhere? Just let humans compete in one race, crown one champion, and see what happens to women in sport. Play it out and see how it ends
@DesiFootyStats Oh and a small but important final point, when you say “female with high T”, you actually mean biological male with high T. They only have the high T by virtue of being male. It’s a category crossing origin of a difference that creates all manner of biological & performance diffs

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More from @Scienceofsport

2 Aug
Folks, you can't measure the presence of an advantage by whether someone wins or not. It has to be measured relative to self. The final performance is the SUM of base level PLUS advantage. So looking only at the final says nothing about the presence of absence of an advantage.
For instance, if I competed in the Tour de France with a 100W motor in my bike, I clearly have an advantage. But I still wouldn’t win - my base level is too low. In order to surpass the competition, your base level must be close enough to them that your advantage takes you ahead
The same is true if you use a doping analogy. We KNOW doping improves performance, it is an advantage. But a doper doesn’t always win. Because unless the doper is within the % of their rivals that doping improves then by, their base level will not allow them to win an event.
Read 4 tweets
2 Aug
The paradox in action. Illegal advantage in the 400, legal in the 200. The reason this weirdness exists can be traced back to the CAS Chand decision in 2016, and the “narrow” framing of evidence for the DSD policy, but this situation was inevitable. The events are too similar
Ok, brief explanation. In 2016, the policy for DSD athletes covered all events. Chand challenged it, and CAS said they understood the rationale for the policy, but it required evidence. WA were thus mandated to find the evidence. They tried, but did a poorly conceived study that
…looked for an association between T and performance in each event. They found a positive association in the 400m, 400m H & 800m, and actually a negative on in the 100m! But the policy was thus revised to cover those events, plus the 1500m, as it was deemed similar to 800
Read 10 tweets
30 Jul
Mixed 4 x 400m relay heat 1 in Tokyo has just given us a great illustration of sex differences in running (see leg 3 to 4). Based on some discussion here over the last few months, a lot of people need to see this real world illustration. Including, apparently, English commentary
Speaking of the mixed relay, I think it would make the race incredibly exciting if they made teams draw randomly to decide the order of sexes. Imagine a race with some teams going MMFF, some FFMM, some MFFM, or MFMF etc. That race would be suspenseful and hugely unpredictable

Here’s a handy little toolkit for that mixed 4 x 400m final. Top 2 qualifiers (or heat winners) get to select their order. The other 6, you just cut these little strips up, and make the teams draw from a hat. I promise it’ll be super exciting the whole way! 👍🏼
Read 4 tweets
29 Jul
On transgender women & performance advantages. One thought - isn’t it astonishing that given “lots of aspects…physiology & anatomy & the mental side”, that NO female has EVER come within 10% of the best 1000 males?

Or…is this an irrelevant distraction given that BOTH males...
…and females already possess the physiology & mental side necessary to be champions within their respective characteristics? So what is the source of the huge gulf in performance?

This is, in fact, the most direct journey to saying a women’s category is not necessary in sport
That is, if elite performance is a result of "a lot of aspects", we can crown a single “human” champion in all events

But where are women among the top 1000 humans in the world right now? Is it a co-incidence that they never have these aspects?

Or…maybe they’re different?
Read 7 tweets
21 Jun
@tomhfh I can assure you that I am not the one who is confused. Let’s take weight - a weight class exists for boxing in BOTH men AND in women. Why is that? What would happen if we mix the sexes at the same weight? So again, let me ask, since you feel you know this: How would you do it?
@tomhfh Let’s take the first step. We use weight. We say that a male at 70kg should be accepted into women’s sport at 70kg. Now we discovered that this male is 34% stronger than the weight-matched female. Now what? We have to screen for strength, is that right? How do we do this in a
@tomhfh …credible and valid way? Which tests would you use? What about punching power, which is 260% higher in males? Even if that is adjusted for mass, it stays say 150% higher. Which test might be conducted to match those together? Now think about speed - males are 10-15% faster than
Read 10 tweets
15 Jun
A summary of the CAS decision is now available: tas-cas.org/fileadmin/user… It doesn't tell us anything that couldn't already be deduced - we know that they ruled that Houlihan failed to establish the source of the nandrolone. That's why she got 4 years. The details are key & absent
It’s been a day full “I choose to believe” statements. I can’t believe how many people’s reaction is “the system must be screwed up, she’d never dope”, having heard literally only one side of the story. It still strikes me as remarkable how specific her statement is, and the...
…”proof” she has claimed was presented to CAS in her defence includes a polygraph, a receipt, phone location records, hair samples, and STILL CAS has ruled that she failed to reach a “balance of probability”. Surely you should be asking “What am I missing from the OTHER side”?
Read 4 tweets

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