Sebastian Coe, president of the World Athletics World, welcomed the decision to ban transgender women from elite women’s competitions “in the best interests of the sport” and suggested that athletics could soon follow suit.
Lord Coe was in Budapest on Sunday when the governing body of swimming sport, Fina, voted to ban the participation of women who have experienced male puberty in women’s areas. Within 24 hours, he announced that the World Athletics Council would also review its policies on transgender and DSD (Differences in Gender) athletes at the end of the year.
“It is my duty to protect the integrity of women’s sport. We take it very seriously, and if it means we need to adapt the protocols in the future, we will,” Coe said. “And I’ve always made it clear that if we ever push the corner so far that we judge fairness or inclusion, I’ll always fall on the side of justice.”
According to world athletics rules, transgender women can compete in the women’s category provided they push their testosterone levels below 5 nmol / l for 12 months. Fina followed this rule until Sunday, when she changed her rules after scientific evidence showed that transgender women maintained their advantage after lowering testosterone levels.
Coe was clear on what he thought of Fina’s new policy. “We see that the international federation is reaffirming its supremacy in establishing rules, regulations and policies that are in the best interests of its sport,” he said. “It simply came to our notice then.
There are currently no elite trans-athletes, although CeCé Telfer became the first publicly transgender to win the NCAA Women’s 400m hurdles in 2019.
Tightening the rules will also affect DSD athletes such as two-time Olympic champion and three-time World Championship 800-meter gold medalist Caster Semenya, 2020 Tokyo 200-meter silver Christine Mboma and Francine Niyonsaba, who last won the women’s 5,000-meter Diamond League final. in.
DSD athletes – who have male testicles but do not produce enough of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is critical for the formation of the male genitalia – have proven to be a highly controversial field in athletics.
In 2019, World Athletics went to a sports arbitration court to stop DSD athletes from running between 400 meters and miles from running internationally unless they are taking their testosterone-lowering medications. However, they can take part in other events. Cas decided that due to biology, 46 athletes with XY DSD “enjoy a significant athletic advantage… over 46 XX athletes without such DSD.”
There has been a great deal of sympathy for athletes like Semenya, who have been raised from a young age and want to compete in the same way, and any change in World Athletics’ DSD policy would rekindle controversy.
Asked if the governing body would consider a policy similar to that of Fina, Coe replied: “We have always said that our rules in this area are a living document of our sport and we follow science.
“We will continue to investigate, investigate and contribute to the growing body of evidence that testosterone is a key determinant of performance, and we plan to discuss our DSD and transgender regulations with our board later this year.”
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