A nonbinary runner was granted USADA permission to take testosterone while competing at USA Track and Field events.
Cal Calamia, 27, is a nonbinary high school cross-country coach and runner in San Francisco.
This week he received confirmation from the United States Anti-Doping Agency that he had been approved to compete at USATF events despite taking testosterone – a substance that is usually banned by USADA for its performance-enhancing value, the Washington Post reported.
Calamia has been taking testosterone since 2019 throughout her gender transition from female to nonbinary transmasculine. He was emailed by USADA in July to inform him that he was at risk of being sanctioned for his use of the performance-enhancing drug.
The exemption – which grants him the ability to compete in the nonbinary category – is thought to be the first of its kind in the running world.
Cal Calamia – a nonbinary runner – was granted USADA permission to take testosterone while competing at USA Track and Field events
Calamia, 27, has been taking testosterone since 2019 throughout her gender transition from female to nonbinary transmasculine
The runner had previously advocated for the addition of the nonbinary division at last year’s San Francisco Marathon for the first time and he was an unpaid consultant for organizers of the nonbinary category at the Boston Marathon – which introduced the new division in April.
Calamia said to the Washington Postt: ‘This approval represents a turning point in conversations about trans athletes. To have this approval means I’m allowed to be part of this conversation without being sidelined.’
The USADA approval was granted because athletes who have a medical reason for using testosterone are allowed to apply for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE).
It never occurred to Calamia that using gender-affirming medication could be considered doping or that he would need to apply for a special exemption to compete in a division specifically for nonbinary people.
Part of the application for a TUE for nonbinary people’s use of testosterone requires proving that a diagnosed case of gender dysmorphia was the reason for using the potentially performance-enhancing drug. This meant applicants are asked to provide a complete medical history including psychological records.
Calamia said the first question on the TUE form asked applicants if they were male or female – he said he didn’t check either box.
Other medications on the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods list that can require TUE verification include stimulants, narcotics, cannabinoids, beta-blockers, diuretics and beta-2 antagonists.
He was emailed by USADA in July to inform him that he was at risk of being sanctioned for his use of the performance-enhancing drug
Calamia advocated for the inclusion of a nonbinary division in the San Francisco marathon last year and worked as an unpaid consultant in establishing a nonbinary category in the Boston marathon as well
This landmark decision from the USADA comes after runners transitioning through the opposite process controversy because female trans runners are often thought to have an unfair advantage.
Government-published research suggests that Trans women athletes possess multiple physiological advantages over biological females even after they transition medically.
Last August the National Institutes of Health quietly shared a review that suggested that early exposure to testosterone means trans women possess at least eight physical and mental attributes that could give them an advantage in sports — even if they make the change relatively early.
Findings showed trans women had greater muscle mass and bone density, which helped strength, power and durability, plus bigger lungs and higher oxygen levels, which helped with endurance, as well as increased connections in the brain responsible for spatial awareness, which could help with agility.
Males who transition to become females are often prescribed feminizing drugs that block the production of testosterone, one of the main drivers of men’s physiological advantages over women athletically.
But the majority of the effects brought on by testosterone cannot be reversed with hormone therapy, the NIH-published review said.
One study of 98 trans women showed that while levels in trans women dropped to below former male levels, almost all participants had testosterone levels that were above the average female range.
This week a trans high school sophomore in Maine faced criticism for competing in the girls’ 5k cross-country competition, despite running last year as a boy.
Soren Stark-Chessa, a pupil at the private Maine Coast Waldorf School in Freeport, was ranked 172nd in the district as a freshman in the boy’s competition.
Over the course of the last year, Stark-Chessa transitioned, and now, as a sophomore, races in the girls’ competitions – where she is ranked fourth. Last Saturday, Stark-Chessa came fifth in the Maine XC Festival of Champions, Belfast.
Calamia said the first question on the TUE form asked applicants if they were male or female – he said he didn’t check either box
The USADA approval was granted because athletes who have a medical reason for using testosterone are allowed to apply for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE)
As Stark-Chessa sprinted to the finish, in a time of 5:51:3, one person can he heard yelling: ‘Way to cheat, bro!’
Other trans athletes besides runners have also faced controversy about the potential upper-hand that male biology and testosterone gives them.
Female college athletes at a Virginia university held a press conference on Thursday after being forced to swim with a transgender woman.
The Roanoke College Women’s Swim Team say they feel abandoned by their university and national officials after a former member of the men’s team joined their squad last month. The case bears strong echoes to that of Lia Thomas, who last year became the first trans athlete to win an NCAA Division I national championship.
In an event held with Riley Gaines and the Independent Women’s Forum, the team demanded the NCAA and US Swimming stop allowing transgender women to compete in female sports.
Sophomore Carter Satterfield said: ‘We are calling on the NCAA to protect female athletes and grant us fair sports – in every sport. We are calling on US Swimming to recognize that girls at every level deserve to know they are valuable enough to be given a fair race.’
Transgender women were banned from competing in the female category at international athletics events.
The decision was made by World Athletics in March to ‘prioritize fairness and the integrity of the female competition before inclusion’.