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World Athletics bans transgender women from women’s competition

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World Athletics Council has banned transgender women from competing in elite female competitions and tightened testosterone restrictions for other athletes, the governing body said on Thursday.

The Council’s president Sebastian Coe said that the decision to exclude transgender women who had gone through male puberty was based “on the overarching need to protect the female category”.

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

World Athletics’ council also voted to cut the maximum amount of plasma testosterone for athletes with Differences in Sex Development (DSD) in half, to 2.5 nanomoles per litre from five.

DSD athletes will also have to reduce their testosterone levels below the new limit for a minimum of 24 months across all events to compete, double the previous time.

The governing body had previously floated the option of transgender athletes being allowed to compete in the female category if they, too, maintained testosterone levels below 2.5 nanomoles per litre for 24 months.

Yet it said on Thursday that it became apparent there was little support within the sport for that proposal.

“We’re not saying no forever,” Coe told a news conference.

Coe announced the formation of a working group, which will be chaired by a transgender athlete, to further study the issue of trans inclusion.

“The working group will look at any prevailing or changing or furthering of our understanding in that space,” Coe said. “We don’t know enough, we now need to know more, and that is the journey that we’re on. But we weren’t prepared to risk the female category on that basis.”

The tighter testosterone rules will impact DSD athletes such as two-times Olympic 800 metre champion Caster Semenya, Christine Mboma, the 2020 Olympic silver medallist in the 200m, and Francine Niyonsaba, who finished runner-up to Semenya in the 800 at the 2016 Olympics.

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