We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Who are Tamara and Irina Press?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated Mar 06, 2024
Our promise to you
PublicPeople is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At PublicPeople, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Tamara and Irina Press were Ukrainian athletes who competed in the 1960 and 1964 Olympics. They were the center of a scandal that ultimately resulted in mandatory gender verification for the Olympic Games.

The sisters were born in Kharkiv, Ukraine, in 1937 and 1939. They were a part of the rigorous and dynamic Olympic team that the Soviet Union put together to dominate the Olympic Games, as part of a model of fighting the Cold War with the United States in non-military arenas.

The Press Sisters, as they were known, dominated the track and field competitions at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome and the 1964 Games in Tokyo. Tamara Natanovna Press won the gold medal in the shot put during both Olympics, and won the silver in the discus throw in the 1960 Games and the gold in 1964. Irina Natanovna Press won the gold in the 80 m hurdles in 1960 Games and the gold in the pentathlon in 1964.

Together, Tamara and Irina won five track and field track and fields for the Soviet Union, and set 26 distinct world records. Tamara absolutely shattered the world record during the Games, breaking the existing record by 2 full feet (0.6 m). Irina matched the world record during those same Games in the 80 m hurdles.

Both Tamara and Irina Press had somewhat masculine physiques, and this caused much speculation at the time. There was a huge backlash in the West to the string of victories in the Eastern Bloc during the 1960s, and a great deal of that centered on the sex of the competitors. Journalists referred often to the sisters pejoratively as the Press Brothers, and it was often speculated that they were actually men, or at the very least were receiving large doses of hormones.

In 1966, the European Championships introduced mandatory testing of chromosomes to determine the sex of the competitors, although the method was not entirely reliable. Tamara and Irina were immediately withdrawn from the European Championships by the Soviet Union, lending much fuel to the speculation that they were in fact men competing as women.

Both vanished from the public eye at this point, with the official line being that they had returned home to look after their ill mother. Irina Press passed away in 2004, and Tamara survives her. She is a trained civil engineer and has written extensively both on this field and on sports. Tamara holds an honorary title in the world of Russian sports, as did Irina before she passed away.

Tamara and Irina Press never had their chromosomes tested, and the speculation has since faded away, although there remain those who will always believe they were men competing as women or women who had hormone injections. The Olympic committee never pushed the issue, however, and their records and medals remain official.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.