Former British Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies has spoken out in support of World Athletics’ decision to exclude transgender athletes from women’s category events and thanked the organization for “standing up for female athletes”.
Under the new rules announced by Sebastian Coe, president of the governing body, transgender women will be barred from competing in the women’s category at international athletic events to “prioritize the fairness and integrity of women’s competition before inclusion.”
It comes as a result of what Lord Coe said bbc radio 4 there was a clear consensus ‘from the vast majority of key stakeholders we have’, including athletes, coaches and member federations.
Writing on Twitter, Mrs. Davies. who had previously spoken out against the inclusion of trans women in women’s categories, said: “Thank you Seb Coe and World Athletics for standing up for female athletes around the world who are worthy of fair sport.”
She thanked her followers, adding: ‘Hopefully we have our sport back. Sport is for everyone but only where you qualify in the right category for your biological reality. We will keep fighting until all girls’ sport is protected.
Lord Coe said the consensus had been there “there was absolutely no way we should include transgender athletes”.
Former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies praised World Athletics’ decision
Former swimmer Sharron Davies, who has been outspoken on the issue, hailed the decision for “standing up for female athletes around the world who are worthy of fair sport.”
Lord Coe said that as “there was not enough robust science on the impact of transgender people on the women’s category”, the possible inclusion of trans athletes in women’s sport “risks damaging the integrity of that category and the integrity of the competitions”.
On the new rules for transgender participation, Lord Coe told a press conference in Monaco: ‘The World Athletics Council has taken decisive action to protect the women’s category in our sport.
The council agreed to exclude male-to-female transgender athletes who have gone through male puberty from women’s world ranking competitions effective March 31 this year.
‘The decision that the council made is a mainly principled decision and that is the general need to protect the female category. This is what our sport is here to do.’
Under the previous rules, transgender women could compete in the female category as long as their testosterone levels were below five nanomoles per liter for a period of one year.
In January, World Athletics announced it wanted to toughen its policy, but said its “preferred option” was just to lower testosterone levels to 2.5 nmol/L and increase the transition period to two years.
That sparked a huge backlash from athletes and women’s rights activists who wanted a blanket ban on transgender athletes competing against other women.
And yesterday, their wish was granted following a vote by World Athletics council members, with the governing body admitting there was “little support” for their original stance during a consultation period.
Coe said: ‘The majority of respondents said that transgender athletes should not compete in the female category. Many believe that there is insufficient evidence that trans women do not maintain an advantage over biological women.
“Where the science is insufficient to justify the maintenance of testosterone suppression for transgender athletes, the council agreed that it should be guided by our general principle, which is to protect the female category.”
Asked if he expected a legal challenge, Coe said: ‘It’s possible. If that is the case, then we will do what we have done in the past, which is vigorously defend our position. We will always do what we believe is best for our sport.’
Coe added that a task force would be established to do more research on eligibility guidelines for transgender people, insisting that “we’re not going to say ‘no’ forever.”
He also announced stricter rules for athletes with differences in sexual development (DSD).
Caster Semenya will be affected by strict rules for athletes with differences in sexual development
Christine Mboma, 2020 Olympic silver medalist in the 200 meters, will also be affected by the rulings.
Under previous regulations, DSD athletes only faced restrictions in events ranging from the 400m to the mile, which prevented double Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya from competing.
The rules for trans women in other sports
As long as they have lowered their testosterone to a specific amount, transgender women can compete against other women.
Transgender women are prohibited from participating in elite women’s races if they have gone through male puberty. FINA, the governing body, is creating an ‘open’ category for transgender swimmers.
Since 2020, trans women have been prevented from playing at the elite international level of women’s rugby. World Rugby was the first international sporting body to impose such a ban.
However, DSD athletes in all other events are now also required to reduce their testosterone levels to 2.5 nmol/L for at least six months, which means that Christine Mboma, the 200m Olympic silver medalist, will not is eligible to compete at this summer’s World Championships in Budapest.
At the same press conference, Coe revealed that Russia’s seven-year doping ban has now been lifted, but that his athletes, and those from Belarus, would still be barred due to the invasion of Ukraine.
That’s despite IOC President Thomas Bach insisting that Russians and Belarusians should be able to compete in next summer’s Olympics in Paris.
Coe, who is also an IOC member, added: “The IOC has no doubts about my position on that issue.
“The death and destruction we have seen in the Ukraine over the past year, including the deaths of some 185 athletes, have only hardened my resolve on this matter.
“The integrity of our major international competitions has already been substantially damaged by the actions of the Russian and Belarusian governments, through the hardship inflicted on Ukrainian athletes and the destruction of Ukraine’s sports systems.
“Russian and Belarusian athletes, many of whom have military affiliations, should not be beneficiaries of these actions.”