World Swimming Organization FINA votes to limit the participation of transgender athletes in elite competitions | News News

The decision was made during the extraordinary general congress of FINA on the sidelines of the World Cup in Budapest, after members heard a report from a working group on transgender people, including leading medical, legal and sports figures

Last updated: 19/06/22 17:21


The World Governing Body FINA has voted to limit the participation of transgender athletes in elite women’s competitions and to set up a working group to create an “open” category.

The decision was made during the extraordinary general congress of FINA on the sidelines of the World Cup in Budapest, after members heard a report from a working group on transgender people, including leading medical, legal and sports figures.

The new policy will require transgender athletes to complete their transition by the age of 12 in order to compete in women’s competitions.

The policy was adopted by a majority of about 71 percent after being presented to members of 152 national voting federations that gathered for the congress at the Pushkash Arena.

The debate intensified after University of Pennsylvania swimmer Leah Thomas became the first NCAA transgender champion in Division I history.

The debate intensified after University of Pennsylvania swimmer Leah Thomas became the first NCAA transgender champion in Division I history.

The rights of transgender people have become a major topic of discussion as sport seeks to balance inclusion while ensuring that there is no unfair advantage.

“We need to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also need to protect the fairness of our events, especially in the women’s category of FINA competitions,” said FINA President Hussein Al-Musalam.

“FINA will always welcome every athlete. Creating an open category will mean that everyone has the opportunity to compete at the elite level. This has not been done so far, so FINA will have to lead. I want all athletes to feel involved in the ability to develop ideas during this process. “

The issue of including transgender people in sports is highly divided, especially in the United States, where it has become a weapon in the so-called “cultural war” between conservatives and progressives.

FINA’s new policy also gives the right to participate to those who are “completely insensitive to androgens and therefore unable to experience male puberty.”

Swimmers who have “suppressed male puberty, starting with Tanner’s stage 2 or before the age of 12, whichever is later, and since then they have consistently maintained serum (or plasma) testosterone levels below 2.5 nmol / L “. also have the right to compete in women’s competitions. Men’s transgender athletes (transgender men) have the full right to compete in men’s swimming competitions.

Proponents of transgender inclusion argue that not enough research has yet been done on the impact of transition on physical performance, and that elite athletes are often physically distinctive in each case.

The debate intensified after the swimmer from the University of Pennsylvania Leah Thomas became the first transsexual champion of the NCAA in the history of Division I, having won 500 women’s freestyle yards earlier this year.

This was followed by New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, who became the first transgender athlete to compete in the Tokyo Olympics last year.

Bach: There is no one-size-fits-all approach for transgender athletes

Sport cannot have a universal approach to transgender inclusion, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said in May.

Controversy over the participation of transgender athletes in women’s categories has been highlighted in cycling, swimming, weightlifting and other sports over the past year.

Olympic cycling champion Katie Archibald criticized her sport’s global governing body, the UCI, last month for its transgender policies, with transatlete Emily Bridges finally excluded from the British Omnium Championships.

Lord Coe, president of World Athletics, said the integrity of women’s sports was “fragile” if federations did not do well.

There were calls for an open category that could include transgender athletes.

Bach said the IOC is and will continue to help sport make “science-based decisions.”

He told a news conference in May: “There is no one-size-fits-all solution. I think we all agree that this is about creating fair competition. At the grassroots level, sport must be inclusive, everyone must have access to sport.

“When it comes to competition as a sport, we have to ensure fair competition. This means that you have to find sport after sport, even discipline after discipline, where there may be an unfair advantage.

“You can’t compare an equestrian athlete to a weightlifter, for example. You can’t even compare a hammer thrower to a 5,000-meter runner in athletics. That is why the IOC has established guidelines on how to make this decision, how to assess where there may be an unfair advantage and where it may not.

“And these guidelines make it very clear that all these decisions must be based on scientific evidence.

“This is the approach, and we are now in contact with various international federations to give them the necessary interpretations when they need them, and to provide them with the names of the experts they can consult.”

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