Athletics world governing body bans transgender women athletes

FILE PHOTO: Athletics - 2022 European Championships - Munich, Germany - August 20, 2022 A joint view of the athletes after the start of the Women's 20km Walking Final REUTERS/Lukas Barth

(REUTERS/file photo)

MANCHESTER, UK –world athletics banned transgender women from participating in elite female competitions and tightened testosterone restrictions on other athletes, the governing body said on Thursday.

World Athletics Federation President Sebastian Coe said that the decision to exclude transgender women who had gone through puberty as boys was based on the “overarching need to defend the female category”.

Tighter measures around one of the most contentious and divisive issues in sport follow a similar move by World Aquatics in 2022.

The World Athletics Council also voted to halve the maximum plasma testosterone for athletes with Differences in Sex Development (DSD), to 2.5 nanomoles per liter from 5.

DSD athletes will also have to lower their testosterone levels below the new limit for a minimum of 24 months in all events, twice the time before.

The governing body had previously made the option of transgender athletes allowed to compete in the women’s category if they also maintained testosterone levels below 2.5 nanomoles per liter for 24 months.

However, it said on Thursday that it was clear there was little support in the sport for that proposal.

“We’re not going to say no forever,” Coe said at a news conference.

Coe announced the creation of a working group chaired by a transgender athlete, to further study transgender inclusion.

“The working group will look at any proliferation or change or enhancement of our understanding in that space,” Coe said. “We don’t know enough, now we need to know more, and that is the journey we are on. But we’re not willing to risk the women’s category on that basis.”

Stricter testosterone rules will affect DSD athletes such as two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya, Christine Mboma, the 2020 Olympic silver medalist in the 200m and Francine Niyonsaba, who finished second behind Semenya in the event. 800 at the 2016 Olympics.

WA regulations around DSD previously required women competing in 400-meter to one-mile events to maintain testosterone levels below 5 nanomoles per liter.

The regulator on Thursday introduced temporary regulations for athletes who have competed outside of restricted events, who will be required to reduce their testosterone levels to 2.5 nanomoles per liter. in six months.

This will prevent some women from competing at the World Athletics Championships in August.

Since being banned from the 800m, Burundi’s Niyonsaba has turned her attention to the 5,000th, winning the Diamond League Finals in 2021.

She was disqualified from the hot 5,000m at the Tokyo Olympics for a lane violation, while Semenya did not qualify for the Olympics.

Namibia’s Mboma, prevented from running the 400m, switched to the 200m, winning a silver medal in Tokyo.

DSD athletes have male testicles but do not produce enough of the hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) needed for the formation of the male external genitalia.

Coe said the decisions were made after consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including 40 member federations, coaches, athletes, plus a range of community groups including transgender, experts from the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee.

World swimming governing body World Aquatics voted last June to ban transgender women from participating in elite competitions if they have gone through any stage of male puberty. A scientific panel has found that even after lowering testosterone levels through medication, transgender women still have a significant advantage.

That vote was passed with 71% of the national federations in favor.


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