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World Athletics president Sebastian Coe backs FINA’s ruling as transgender athletes could be banned

Transgender athletes could subsequently be banned from athletics as World Athletics president Sebastian Coe backs FINA’s ruling as ‘in the interest of sport’ because ‘biology trumps gender’

  • FINA voted to ban trans women who ‘ve experienced part of male puberty’ from participating in female events
  • World Athletics will re-examine transgender guidelines by year’s end
  • The governing body could follow FINA’s decision as President Seb Coe spoke in support of the crackdown
  • Coe insisted that fairness to women in athletics will always come before inclusion
  • He supported FINA and insisted that the swimming board work in the interest of his sport

World Athletics will re-examine their transgender guidelines at the end of the year after Sebastian Coe spoke in support of the swim board’s crackdown.

Last week, FINA voted to ban trans women who “have experienced part of male puberty” from participating in female events – a marked departure from prevailing views of Olympic sports.

While the World Athletics rules say that a transgender athlete may participate if she has a testosterone level of less than 5 nmol/L for a period of at least 12 months – six months longer than prescribed by their regulations on athletes with differences in sexual development (DSD) — Coe has been emphatic in his belief that “biology trumps sex.”

His stance is supported by testosterone research surrounding the DSD issue in athletics, which was challenged in the longstanding case with Caster Semenya.

Speaking about FINA’s stance, Coe said: “We see an international federation assert its primacy in establishing rules, regulations and policies that are in the best interest of its sport. This is as it should be.

“We have always believed, and reiterated, that biology is more important than gender and we will continue to review our regulations accordingly.”

Seb Coe strongly believes that 'biology trumps gender' and World Athletics will review their transgender guidelines at the end of the year

Seb Coe strongly believes that ‘biology trumps gender’ and World Athletics will review their transgender guidelines at the end of the year

Testosterone research surrounding the DSD problem was challenged in the long-running Caster Semenya case

Testosterone research surrounding the DSD problem was challenged in the long-running Caster Semenya case

When asked if WA would take a similar stance, Coe added: “We have always said that our regulations in this area are a living document, specific to our sport and we will follow the science.

FINA (pictured by President Husain Al Musallam) has voted that trans women who 've experienced part of male puberty' will no longer be able to participate in female events

FINA (pictured by President Husain Al Musallam) has voted that trans women who ‘ve experienced part of male puberty’ will no longer be able to participate in female events

“We continue to study, research and contribute to the growing body of evidence that testosterone is an important determinant of performance and have scheduled a discussion with our council about our DSD and transgender regulations before the end of the year.”

Coe insisted that fairness to women in athletics at his watch will always take precedence over inclusion.

He said: “It is my responsibility to protect the integrity of women’s sport and we take that very seriously, and if that means changing protocols in the future, we will.”

And I’ve always made it clear: If we’re ever pushed into a corner to the point where we make a judgment about justice or inclusion, I’ll always fall on the side of justice.

“You have to and that’s my responsibility. It is of course a social problem. If one of my colleagues here on my team suddenly becomes transgender, I don’t care. They will continue to do the same job with skill and confidence, just as they were before making that switch. This is not possible in sports. It’s fundamental to performance and integrity and that’s the big, big difference for me.”

Coe indicated that some organizations may fear taking a tough stance on inclusiveness for fear of crippling legal challenges.

Coe said some organizations may be afraid to take a tough stance for fear of legal challenges

Coe said some organizations may be afraid to take a tough stance for fear of legal challenges

Transathlete Lia Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania prepares for the 500-meter freestyle at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in March

Transathlete Lia Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania prepares for the 500-meter freestyle at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in March

He said: ‘We spent $1,000,000 (in legal fees related to DSD). We are not FIFA, but we have not been robbed. But there are other sports that really fear that if they go down that road they will bankrupt themselves by defending it. So it’s not that easy for us to just sit and say, “Well, some sports kind of walk around it.”

“The reality is it’s quite an expense and they also have limited data and research.

“The International Olympic Committee has created the framework that says no one should make these decisions unless you’ve done 10 years of longitudinal research.

“Well, we have. I doubt, on transgender, anyone in sports has had 10 years of longitudinal research — they just don’t have it.’

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