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World Athletics Tightens Transgender Rules

by | Fri, Mar 24 2023

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The World Athletics Council (WAC) has banned biological men identifying as female from competing in women’s events from next month.

“In regard to transgender athletes, the Council has agreed to exclude male-to-female transgender athletes who have been through male puberty from female World Rankings competition,” the WAC announced.

The Council revealed that it held a “consultation period” in January and February with various groups, including “Member Federations, the Global Athletics Coaches Academy, the Athletes’ Commission, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as well as representative transgender and human rights groups.”

“It became apparent that there was little support within the sport for the option that was first presented to stakeholders, which required transgender athletes to maintain their testosterone levels below a certain level for 24 months to be eligible to compete internationally in the female category,” the WAC explained.

“Decisions are always difficult when they involve conflicting needs and rights between different groups, but we continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations,” said WAC President Lord Sebastian Coe.

“We will be guided in this by the science around physical performance and male advantage which will inevitably develop over the coming years. As more evidence becomes available, we will review our position, but we believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount,” Lord Coe asserted, adding that “We’re not saying no forever.”

The Christian Post reports that the WAC noted: “There are currently no transgender athletes competing internationally in athletics and, consequently, no athletics-specific evidence of the impact these athletes would have on the fairness of female competition in athletics.”

“In these circumstances, the council decided to prioritise fairness and the integrity of the female competition before inclusion,” it added.

The governing body also addressed the issue of Athletes with Differences of Sex Development (DSD) defined as individuals who “have congenital conditions that cause atypical sex development.”

This category includes South African Caster Semenya a two-time Olympic champion at 800 metres who has been barred from that event since 2019; Namibia’s Christine Mboma, the 2020 Olympic silver medallist in the 200 metres; and Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, who finished runner-up to Semenya in the 800 metres at the 2016 Olympics.

The WAC requires DSD athletes to “reduce their testosterone levels below a certain limit for a minimum of 24 months to compete internationally in the female category in any event.

Formerly known as the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) and based in Sweden, the governing body had previously announced its intention to review its rules on trans-identifying athletics.

Swimming’s world governing body World Aquatics voted last June to bar biological men from elite women’s competitions if they had experienced any part of male puberty. A scientific panel had found that even after reducing their testosterone levels through medication, transgender swimmers still had a significant advantage.

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