August 16, 2002 Features & Images » Feature Story

Feature - Growing pains 

Downhill mountain biking; an evolution not without protest.

Page 3 of 4

Claire Buchar placed third in the Bear Mountain race in June, and says it wasn’t a level playing field.

"It’s nothing personal but you can’t compare a man to a woman physically and even mentally," she emphasizes. "For gender testing she would come out a man because of DNA, and you can’t change that with surgery."

Buchar says she has been training hard for years to fulfill dreams of getting onto the national team, and doesn’t want to be pushed out by someone who shouldn’t really be in the same category.

Other women competitors, including racers from Whistler, organized a petition to remove Dumaresq from the pro women’s division.

However Dumaresq feels she has the right to race as there is no scientific proof that transgender people hold a physical or mental advantage. And last week the Canadian Cycling Association agreed with her, adding Dumaresq to the Canadian team going to Austria this month for the World Mountain Biking Championships.

"In men, 95 per cent of testosterone comes from the testes and the remainder is from the adrenal gland, but women produce more there," Dumaresq says.

"Testosterone is a performance-enhancing hormone and when you remove testes, you lose some strength and risk taking ability. Therefore genetic women actually have an advantage over me."

Since finishing the full surgery seven years ago, Dumaresq says she has lost around 30 per cent of her muscle mass and around four inches in height due to hormone changes. She is now five foot nine. She says her race times are on a par with other women in the World Cup level and if she wins, it is only because she trains hard and her job as a welder fabricator keeps her fit.

"I ride with the same aggressive bunch of guys that I knew before my operation. I would like to see my competitors take it up a notch, stop whining and take their hand off the brake. My goal is to see Canadian women in the top 10 of North American downhill racers because we should be there."

Dumaresq believes that to ban her from racing would be a double standard, since no one minded when she wasn’t winning.

Pierre Hutsebaut, executive director of the Canadian Cycling Association, said last week the issue was clear.

"She is legally a woman," he told Canadian Press.

"She is competing in the women category, she met the selection criteria, then she got selected to represent Canada."

Buchar and Whistler’s Sylvie Allen were also among the six women named to the Elite Women’s downhill team.

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