According to British media reports, the World Athletics Federation could follow the new rules of the International Swimming Federation (Fina) for trans people. As reported by the BBC and the “Mirror”, among others, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe praised the Fina’s specifications and was open to rule changes. “You’re seeing an international federation asserting its right to set rules, regulations and policies that are in the best interest of its sport,” Coe told BBC Sport.
“This is how it should be. We have always believed that biology trumps gender and we will continue to review our regulations accordingly. We will follow the science,” said the two-time 1,500-meter Olympic champion. Studying and research will continue, gathering evidence that testosterone plays a key role in performance. At the heart of the debate is whether trans athletes have a physical advantage from their naturally higher levels of testosterone.
At the end of the year, the Executive Committee of the World Athletics Federation should discuss the issue. So far, transgender athletes in athletics in women’s competitions have been allowed to start with a testosterone level of less than 5 nanomoles per liter of blood for 12 months. “When push comes to shove and there’s a judgment between inclusion and fairness, we will always choose fairness – that’s non-negotiable to me,” said Coe. “The integrity of women’s sport is really important. We cannot allow a generation of young girls to think that there is no future for them in sport.”
Fina had set new rules for trans people in swimming competitions on Sunday. Thereafter, they may only enter women’s competitions if they have completed their gender reassignment by the age of twelve. The Fina has also set up a working group to work on a so-called “open” competition category.
The International Rugby League is also following Fina’s example and is banning transgender athletes from international women’s competitions until further notice. This affects, among other things, the World Cup in England in November. As the IRL announced on Tuesday, they are working intensively on the development of criteria “that fairly reconcile the right of the individual to play with the safety of all participants”. The goal is a “comprehensive inclusion policy”, by 2023 a final line for trans people should be defined.
The IRL referred to the International Olympic Committee in its decision. That put the responsibility in this case in the hands of the professional associations. After New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first openly trans woman to compete in the Olympics in Tokyo, there is a policy designed to prevent discrimination and emphasizes the right of all athletes to compete. There is no longer a blanket testosterone limit.
There could also be changes in football. “Fifa is currently reviewing its gender-specific eligibility requirements in consultation with expert stakeholders,” said a spokesman for the world governing body. Fifa bases itself on the specifications of numerous interest groups for medicine, law, science/performance and human rights. The association also referred to the November 2021 IOC Framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination on the Grounds of Gender Identity and Gender Differences.
The topic had recently attracted attention primarily in connection with the American Lia Thomas. She became the first trans woman to win the highest level of college athletics in March. The swimmer won the 500 yard freestyle.