Men compete against men, and women compete against women.
Yet the recent case of South African runner Caster Semenya proves that you can't just judge a book by its cover.
In fact the question of gender in sports is so complicated that doctors and medical experts can't agree on a set of guidelines to begin the process of determining who's a he and who's a she.
"The best biological marker, if you want a level playing field, would probably be functional testosterone,” said Eric Vilain, a professor of human genetics and pediatrics at U.C.L.A., specializes in sex development.
"There is a good correlation between functional testosterone and muscle mass. Measuring functional testosterone would mean not only measuring how much a body is making, but also the level of effect. Some people’s cells react more to testosterone than others," according to the New York Times.
But let's say that the sports governing body decides to use "functional testosterone" as one measure of who's a man who's a women.
"An athlete’s biological history matters, too. A transsexual woman may now have female-typical hormones, but her bones and muscles developed under male-typical levels. Vilain’s research has suggested that the biological differences between men and women may depend on more than hormonal differences," The New York Times goes on to report.
But according to experts, before any sports governing body can decide how to deal with these difficult issues it must also be prepared to answer a long list of difficult questions such as:
"- How can it be consistent, across conditions, with regard to what counts as an unfair advantage?
- What error rate is it willing to accept for tests? Will the policy for various disorders of sex development match, in philosophy, its policies on transsexualism so transgender women are not cheated or benefited?
-How will the policies also affect athletes competing as men?"
to name just a few.
Follow on twitter @everymantri