Marc Naimark's writing and interviews _____________________________________________________ / Sex verification in women’s sports is humiliating and unnecessary

Posted in Olympics,, sport, web by marcnaimark on 2014/07/31


When the Indian team entered Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland, last week for the opening ceremony of the 20th Commonwealth Games, one athlete was missing: Dutee Chand, a sprinter disqualified shortly before the Games because of excess levels of testosterone in her blood.

Chand was not found guilty of doping. Because of privacy concerns, the Indian authorities have not released details about the athlete, and indeed, they did not even name Chand, who soon confirmed that she is the athlete in question. The Sports Authority of India had simply declared: “Preliminary investigations indicate that the athlete is not fit for participation in a female event due to female hyperandrogenism.” This follows the regulations of the International Amateur Athletics Federation, which since 2011 has declared that naturally high levels of testosterone make women athletes ineligible for women’s competitions.

After 90-plus years of women’s sport, governing bodies continue to fight a losing war against an imaginary foe: the presence of male interlopers in women’s competitions. The casualties of this war are the women who are subjected to humiliating screening and testing, a minority of whom will be designated by sports authorities as not “real” women, or at best, women ineligible to compete as women. (more…)

Advertisements / No one can agree on what “homemade” means: France’s new labeling law was doomed from the beginning

Posted in France,, web by marcnaimark on 2014/07/27


As you enjoy your coq au vin this summer in a quaint Parisian bistro, you may find the staff even surlier than usual. The reason for restaurateurs’ consternation is a law that came into effect on July 15 intended to protect “real cuisine” from the onslaught of industrial food that’s served in up to 70 percent of restaurants in France, according to some estimates.

French restaurateurs seeking to maintain the tradition of quality have increasingly complained of unfair competition from eateries that, most often unbeknownst to diners, simply microwave ready-made meals, defrost frozen products, or slice off a length of hard-boiled egg in a tube for your oeuf mayonnaise.

Whenever there is a problem in France, there are legislators ready to respond with a law. The new fait maison law requires that restaurants serving homemade food say so by means of a special logo that looks like a saucepan with a roof over it. If all the food served in a restaurant is homemade, a poster suffices; if only some dishes are homemade, they must be tagged as such on the menu. If you’re the kind of consumer who likes to know where your food comes from, this might sound like a pretty good idea, but au contraire: This law is as flawed as they come.

(more…) / The fairness fallacy is destroying women athletes

Posted in insidethegames, Olympics, sport, web by marcnaimark on 2014/07/27


Sport and fair play go together like peanut butter and jelly. We speak of playing on a level playing field, we worry about doping, match fixing, diving and flopping, of cheating, all in the name of “fairness”.

For women athletes, the unobtainable quest for absolute fairness has profound consequences, leading to shaming, invasive medical examinations, lurid speculation, mutilating surgery, and more. In the following paragraphs, I’ll share some thoughts on how an obsession for “fairness” has lead to this deplorable state of affairs, and why it’s time to admit failure.

The latest victim of the current International Olympic Committee (IOC)/International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) gender policy is Dutee Chand, an Indian sprinter banned from the 2014 Commonwealth Games because her natural testosterone levels are too high.

This policy arose from the controversy over South African runner Caster Semenya. Rather than attempting to determine the gender of an athlete, the policy claims to simply limit participation in women’s events to athletes with a testosterone level within what the sports organisations decide is the normal range for women. Federations have adopted their policy in the name of fairness for women athletes.

But what does “fairness” mean in the context of sport? Certainly cheating, flouting the rules, fixing matches, intentional doping, etc. are unfair.


Will a dispute about French wine destroy the Internet, a major trade agreement, and Wisconsin brie?

Posted in France, internet by marcnaimark on 2014/07/07

dotwineCurrently the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a California non-profit, runs key bits of the Internet under contract with the United States Department of Commerce. ICANN is in the midst of rolling out what is by far the largest number of new domain names (generic top-level domains, or gTLDs) ever created, in which .salon, .hotel, .apple, etc. will join the tried and true .com, .net, .de, etc.

Two names that have multiple applicants but have yet to be delegated to a register (think Verisign or Afilias, who “own” one or more domain name suffixes and who in turn contract with registrars like GoDaddy or to sell domain names to consumers) are .vin and .wine. French opposition to current plans hit a high point in June 2014 when Axelle Lemaire, French minister for all things digital, went to London for a regular meeting of ICANN and threatened to scupper current plans for a reform of ICANN governance, and possibly even the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, also known as TAFTA, the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, unless modifications were made to the operation of .vin and .wine..

France, and the European Union, have ongoing opposition to an Internet under control of the United States, and have welcomed a commitment by the Obama administration to release ICANN from its ties to the United States. But Axelle Lemaire went much farther than the official EU line, calling for ICANN governance on the basis of one country, one vote, which would turn Internet governance over to a body more like the United Nations General Assembly, not a body known for effective governance of the matters in its purview. (more…) / Can dotHIV turn ICANN’s domain name boondoggle into an opportunity to do good?

Posted in internet,, web by marcnaimark on 2014/07/07


You are creating a business, like derivatives on Wall Street, that has no value,” Esther Dyson, the founding chairwoman of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, once said about ICANN’s project to create hundreds of new generic top level domains, known as gTLDs.

Aside from the opportunity to use non-Latin alphabets, the new gTLDs are a solution in search of a problem, a multi-million-dollar boondoggle, generating income of more than $300 million in ICANN application fees alone. (Paradoxically, this may result in only minimal net revenue for the corporation.)

That sum does not include the operating costs of the hundreds of applicants seeking to become the registry for a given gTLD (registries “own” top level domains under contract with ICANN and in turn contract with registrars such as or GoDaddy, which sell domain names using the TLD to individuals, businesses, nonprofits, etc.), nor the ongoing costs to brand owners, who arealready seeing the negative consequences they feared at the launch of the program.

These new gTLDs offer real risks to the LGBTQ community. I have written here and here about the travails of dotgay LLC in its attempts to secure the .gay gTLD.  After granting a commercial operator the rights to .lgbt, ICANN will soon decide whether dotgay LLC’s community priority application will succeed for .gay, or whether the string will be awarded to the highest bidder for purely commercial operation. If the latter comes to pass, both .gay and .lgbt, the two names under consideration of the greatest interest to the LGBTQ community, will be operated solely to benefit commercial interests, with no protection against possible abuse of these names, no community involvement, and no funds returning to the community.

But there is a third gTLD that also concerns many in the LGBTQ community: .hiv. It has enjoyed a much better fate than .gay and offers some good from the ill wind ICANN has been blowing on the web.

The new .hiv domain name was successfully proposed by dotHIV, a Berlin-based nonprofit corporation that signed a registration contract with ICANN in late March, with a first batch of “sunrise” domain launches to begin later this month, and .hiv opening to all applicants in August.