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Outsports Asshole of the Year: The IAAF

There were so many choices, but the International Association of Athletic Federations — now rebranding itself as World Athletics — went out of its way to be awful in 2019.

This Nov.7, 1999 file photo shows the The IAAF (International Amateur Athletic Federation) headquarters in Monaco, Sunday, Nov. 7,1999.
AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau, File

They changed their name, again, but not their awful behavior toward LGBTQI athletes. The IAAF, once the International Amateur Athlete Federation, changed its name in 2001 to the international Association of Athletic Federations, and as of October is now World Athletics.

But a new moniker and redesigned logo cannot hide how horrendous this organization behaved in 2019, earning them the fitting title of Asshole of the Year.

They went to court to defend a policy, announced in April 2018, mandating that some female track athletes with naturally occurring high level of testosterone take drugs to lower their testosterone. Their argument was that such women have an unfair physical advantage over other women, ignoring the fact Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt also have a genetic physical advantage over other men competing in their sports.

Although the IAAF had targeted Indian sprinter Dutee Chand five years ago, and lost, this time the organization was successful in convincing both the Court for Arbitration in Sport and Switzerland’s highest court that South Africa’s Caster Semenya could no longer compete in the event that has made her a superstar: the 800m.

Semenya, incidentally, shares the award of Outsports Female Hero of the Year for 2019.

Who is the Outsports Person of the Decade? Click here to see “The Outsports 20” list

And despite denials, court records showed they misgendered Semenya, calling her male, when in fact she has lived and been known as a female since birth. Although she has never confirmed this publicly, the IAAF claims she is one of a number of female runners who have “differences of sex development” or DSD, and who were born with the typical male XY chromosome pattern. Someone with DSD would have some male biological characteristics, male testosterone levels after puberty, and according to the IAAF, an unfair advantage over female athletes whose chromosomes are XX. Semenya calls her unusually high level of testosterone her “natural gifts.”

Not only did the IAAF ultimately impose its new stricter testosterone limits in October, it changed its policy so that transgender women athletes will no longer be classified as “female.”

Runners-up for Asshole of the Year include the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an anti-gay organization. The group’s nine-point “statement of faith” makes it very clear that gay people are to remain celibate, they are not allowed to marry, and they are not welcome. The FCA made news last month when the far right religious group lost the support of Chick-fil-A.

We also considered notorious homophobe and transphobe Israel Folau, the fervently Christian athlete who negotiated a big bucks settlement with Rugby Australia over his dismissal because of a hate-filled Instagram post that warned gays they’d go to hell along with drunks and adulterers.

Another clear contender would be TERFs the world over. TERF is an acronym for “trans exclusionary radical feminists,” mainly women who oppose transgender inclusion in sports and want to exclude trans women from even the idea of being female, as well as women’s spaces such as public bathroom and changing facilities. Although considered a slur by those who are called TERF, the acronym was actually coined by a cisgender woman.

Prior Assholes of the Year:

2018: Soccer Fans Who Chant Gay Slurs

2017: Fans who chant gay slurs

2016: Nico Hines and the Daily Beast

2015: Lance Berkman & Rajon Rondo

2014: Tony Dungy