Seiler, S., de Konig, J. J., & Foster, C. (2005). Is the gender gap in running performance still narrowing. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 37(5), Supplement abstract 2108.

This paper was a reaction to an article in Nature (431, September 2004) that suggested running times over 100 m were narrowing between genders. A more rigorous analysis of 100 and 200 m times from 14 Olympic and 9 World Championship performances was conducted.

Men's times in 100 and 200 m demonstrated a linear decline. Women's times were curvilinear with the closest-to-men's times occurring in the 1980's (100 m difference 8.3%; 200 m difference 9.6%). The gap widened in the 1990's (100 m 9.1%; 200 m 10.7%) and 2000-2004 (100 m 10.4%; 200 m 11.5%). The use of drugs affecting women's performances was considered as a possible cause of the reversal in trend.

Implication. The gender gap in sprint times is not narrowing, but actually widening.

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