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Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences

Faculty of Law
Poster for the Baron de Lancey Lecture 2020: Law, Hormones, and Sport: a level playing field?



The 2020 Baron de Lancey Lecture - Law, Hormones, and Sport: a level playing field?

Professor Bartha Knoppers - McGill University

In 2018, the International Association for Athletic Federations enacted regulations that prevent female athletes with naturally high levels of testosterone from competing in some athletics events. The validity of these regulations was challenged by South African Olympian Caster Semenya. In 2019, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the regulations. Athletes like Semenya will now need to take testosterone lowering medication to compete.

The Court’s decision was highly controversial. Is the decision necessary to protect female sport? Is it unfair discrimination? Does it comply with doping laws? The International Olympic Committee and sports federations determine the rules for athletes’ eligibility. The World Anti-Doping Agency regulates prohibited substances, and can issue a Therapeutic Use Exemption for substances that are needed to treat medical conditions. Exemptions are determined on a case-by-case basis. Should a natural trait that does not pose a medical problem, such as high testosterone, be considered a medical condition? Professor Knoppers will explore these and related questions about the law and ethics of regulating hormones in sport.


About the Speaker:

Bartha Knoppers is Full Professor, Canada Research Chair in Law and Medicine, and Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy of the Faculty of Medicine, McGill University. She is Chair of the Ethics Advisory Panel of the World Anti-Doping Agency, and Co-Chair of the Regulatory and Ethics Workstream of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health. She is also an Officer of the Order of Canada and of Quebec, and was awarded the 2019 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research.


Further Details:


The lecture will begin promptly at 5:15 pm. Please arrive in good time as we expect that the event will be well-attended. Doors will open at 5:00 pm. The lecture will be followed by a Q&A and drinks reception for all attendees.



LG18, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge


Booking Information

Tickets are free, but required. Tickets are available here.


Parking and Transportation:

There is limited on-site parking (contact and some metered on-street parking on West Road and Sidgwick Avenue. The venue is on the route for the Uni 4 bus service, alight at West Road, CB3 (further information here).


Questions and more information

For more information about the Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences, or the Baron de Lancey Lectures, click here. For questions, please email us at:


This event is kindly sponsored by the Ver Heyden de Lancey Fund.

Thursday, 19 March, 2020 - 17:15 to 19:00
Event location: 
Faculty of Law