Mayo Clinic Doctor Suspended For Saying Testosterone Matters In Athletics (Really)

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Can you imagine saying something that everyone knows is true, and then getting suspended from your job at a major medical clinic? One Mayo Clinic doctor now does.

He was suspended and threatened with termination for saying that testosterone plays a factor in athletic performance.

That, of course, is correct but flies in the face of the argument that trans athletes don’t have any advantages over women. That is obviously not true.

Dr. Michael J. Joyner, an anesthesiology professor at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, was reportedly suspended for a week without pay earlier this year and received a letter threatening his employment.


Well, the warning letter he received — which was obtained and released by free speech organization, The Fire — points to his “use of idiomatic language.”

Mayo Clinic
A professor at the Mayo Clinic was threatened with termination for saying testosterone plays a role in athletic performance. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

Dr. Joyner Received The Threatening Letter In March

The letter — dated March 5 — was written by Carlos B. Mantilla. In it, Joyner is given a typed tongue-lashing after he was quoted in a CNN article. The January 12 article features the following line which uses some quotes from Joyner about an alternative way to treat COVID:

“…(Joyner is) ‘frustrated’ with the NIH’s ‘bureaucratic rope-a-dope,’ calling the agency’s
guidelines a `wet blanket’ that discourages doctors from trying convalescent plasma on these people.”

CNN, January 12

The letter then tells Joyner that the CNN interview “sheds light on a negative and unprofessional pattern of behavior exhibited by you for some time.”

Joyner was accused of using idiomatic language that was “problematic” and reflected poorly on the Clinic’s “brand and reputation.”

That’s pretty ironic. If there’s anything that could sully the reputation of a medical clinic, you’d think it would be ripping a doctor a new one for stating a scientific fact.

Joyner Was Slammed By Clinic For NYT About Advantages For Trans Athletes

The other instance cited in the letter stems from a 2022 interview with The New York Times for a May 29, 2022 article about University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas.

So what wacky thing did Joyner tell The Times?

Since prepubescent girls grow faster than boys, they have a competitive advantage early on. Puberty washes away that advantage. “You see the divergence immediately as the testosterone surges into the boys,” Dr. Joyner said. “There are dramatic differences in performances.”

The New York Times, May 29, 2022

He also offered them this idiomatic gem:

“There are social aspects to sport, but physiology and biology underpin it,” Dr. Joyner noted. “Testosterone is the 800-pound gorilla.”

The New York Times, May 29, 2022

Mark this one down: Dr. Joyner got a verbal paddling for what could be the most accurate thing printed by The New York Times in years.

In addition to singling out those two interviews, the letter slammed Joyner for not adhering to the Mayo Clinic’s guidelines for speaking to the press.

Additionally, it claimed that some co-workers perceive a “bullying” tone in Joyner’s communications.

The letter doesn’t give any instances of bullying (which, by the way, I die a little more inside every time an adult uses the term “bullying”), it just sounds like some people didn’t like his tone.


Joyner Still Works At The Mayo Clinic

Joyner still has his job at the Mayo Clinic. However, that doesn’t make this situation any less disturbing. In a way, it’s a little chilling to hear a representative for an organization whose purpose is to help very, very sick people put “brand and reputation” over scientific fact.

Shouldn’t they prioritize science even if it doesn’t jive with people’s politics?

Who knows why Dr. Mantilla wrote the letter. Did he personally not like Joyner’s quotes? Perhaps he wrote it to get whiny staff members off of his case? He singled out the interview with The New York Times as an issue in the media and for the “LGBTQI+ community at Mayo Clinic.”

Maybe he was just sick of hearing it. Either way, the letter is an example of where some medical institutions are headed.

Although, maybe, Joyner wasn’t the one who needed the memo.

Perhaps the Mayo Clinic employees who don’t understand that biological fact doesn’t adhere to their sociopolitical beliefs need a reminder.

Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle

Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

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