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World Athletics considering transgender eligibility in women’s events

World Athletics considering transgender eligibility in women’s events
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe wearing a protective face mask after inspecting the National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, October 8, 2020. (Reuters)

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World Athletics president Lord Coe has hinted the sport could follow swimming in banning transgender women from elite female competitions, insisting “fairness is non-negotiable”.

Swimming’s world governing body FINA voted on Sunday to stop trans athletes from competing in women’s elite races if they have gone through any part of the process of male puberty.

The landmark decision set swimming apart from almost all other Olympic sports, with most using testosterone limits as a basis for inclusion.

But Lord Coe has now revealed that World Athletics is set to discuss adopting a new eligibility policy, and welcomed FINA’s move.

“We see an international federation asserting its primacy in setting rules, regulations and policies that are in the best interest of its sport,” he told BBC Sport.

“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.

“We continue to study, research and contribute to the growing body of evidence that testosterone is a key determinant in performance, and have scheduled a discussion on our regulations with our council at the end of the year.”

Under Lord Coe, World Athletics has already introduced rules that cap testosterone levels at five nanomoles per litre (5nmol/L) for transgender athletes and for competitors with differences in sex development (DSD) in some women’s running events.

And with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently placing responsibility on individual federations to determine eligibility criteria of their own, other sports are now bringing in tougher policies.

“We’ve always tried to find a navigable way through. We haven’t wanted to stigmatise,” said Lord Coe, who was in Budapest as a guest of FINA as it made its decision at an extraordinary general congress at the weekend.

“But when push comes to shove, if it’s a judgement between inclusion and fairness, we will always fall down on the side of fairness – that for me is non-negotiable.

“The integrity of women’s sport is really, really important here, and we can’t have a generation of young girls thinking there is not a future for them in the sport. So we have a responsibility…maintaining the primacy and the integrity of female competition is absolutely vital, and that’s why we were at the forefront of tabling those regulations that allow as close as you can get to a level playing field.

“Those regulations are always under review… if there are events, distances or disciplines that we think are being unfairly impacted we will of course look at those again in the light of the science.” (BBC)