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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?

Unfortunately, due to present public health concerns, the 2020 Baron de Lancey Lecture has been cancelled.

On Thursday 19th March 2020, Prof. Bartha Knoppers will deliver the talk, ‘Law, Hormones, and Sport: a level playing field?’.

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. Was 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, with 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.

Bartha Knoppers is Full Professor, Canada Research Chair in Law and Medicine, and Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy at McGill University. She is also the Chair of the Ethics Advisory Panel of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The Baron de Lancey Lecture is part of the 2020 Cambridge Science Festival. Tickets are free, but required. Tickets are available at:

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The Baron de Lancey Lecture series is kindly supported by the Ver Heyden de Lancey Fund.