World Athletics – a global governing body for track & field and cross country events – is considering a new ruling as the president of the organization may follow FINA -the world’s governing body for swimming – and protect female athletes from competing against some biological men.
On Sunday, FINA voted for a new policy that would only allow biological men to participate in women’s swimming events if “they can establish to FINA’s comfortable satisfaction that they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 (of puberty) or before age 12, whichever is later.”
“It is a policy that we need to introduce in order to protect the competitive fairness of our event” said FINA president Husain Al-Musallam
The push to impose restrictions on transgender athletes from competing in championships and the Olympics is no doubt in response to the growing criticism the organization and the sport of swimming has faced in the wake of swimmer Leia Thomas, who has dominated women’s swimming events since transitioning. Thomas competed at the collegiate level as a man before competing as a female after transitioning with hormone replacement therapy. Thomas had hoped to compete for the U.S. at the 2024 Paris Olympics, but will now be unable to do so in light of the ban.
Catlin Jenner has been wildly outspoken on imposing such restrictions, saying that they have a clear advantage when it comes to competing against biological females in the competitive sport.
Currently, the World Athletics rules say a transgender athlete can compete if she has a testosterone level below 5 nmol/L continuously for a period of at least 12 months – six months longer than stipulated by their regulations around athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD), however, the rules look like they might be updated to follow FINA’s rule change.
Following FINA’s ruling, the World Athletics president, Sebastian Coe, has hailed swimming’s decision to ban transgender women from elite female competitions as being in“the best interests of its sport” because ‘biology trumps gender.’
“My responsibility is to protect the integrity of women’s sport. We take that very seriously and, if it means that we have to make adjustments to protocols going forward, we will,” Coe said. “And I’ve always made it clear: if we ever get pushed into a corner to that point where we’re making a judgment about fairness or inclusion, I will always fall down on the side of fairness.”
“This is as it should be. We have always believed that biology trumps gender and we will continue to review our regulations in line with this. We will follow the science.
According to the Daily Wire, Coe noted some organizations feared getting hit with lawsuits if they took a stance against transgender participation.
“We’ve spent $1,000,000 [on legal fees related to DSD],” he revealed. “We’re not FIFA but we’re not bereft. But there are other sports that are genuinely fearful that, if they go down that road, they’ll bankrupt themselves defending this. So it’s not that easy for us to just sit there and say, ‘Well, some sports are sort of tiptoeing around it.”
“The reality of it is it’s quite an outlay and they’ve also got limited data and research,” he noted. “The International Olympic Committee created the framework, which said that nobody should be making these decisions unless you’ve got 10 years of longitudinal study. Well we have. I doubt whether, on transgender, anybody in sport has got 10 years of longitudinal study – they just haven’t.”
World Athletics isn’t the only sporting governing body to react to FINA’s landmark decision. FIFA, the organization that governs world soccer, is another organization that is also considering following these changes. A spokesperson for FIFA told Reuters it was in a consultation process over a new policy.
“FIFA is currently reviewing its gender eligibility regulations in consultation with expert stakeholders,” said the spokesperson.
“Due to the ongoing nature of the process, FIFA is not in a position to comment on specifics of proposed amendments to the existing regulations,” the spokesperson added.